The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Where is the political center?

There is a blog I read frequently, called "Rise of the Center," owned by Solomon Kleinsmith. He obviously considers himself a centrist, but sometimes I wonder.

Now, I do not claim to be at the dead center of the political spectrum, but I think I'm a relatively short distance to the right of center. Yet Kleinsmith sometimes impresses me as far to my left.

Case in point: the recent debt ceiling/deficit settlement. In comments to his posting on it, he took me to task for referring to the final solution as a "compromise," because in his eye, any refusal to impose a new tax burden on the American people is a "hard right" position. In fact, the Tea Party types gave up quite a lot in order to win a no-new-taxes solution, and many voted against the bill because they felt it did not cut spending enough. I'll admit that if you consider the most extreme positions of the left wing of the Democratic Party and the most extreme positions of the right wing of the Republican Party (approximately synonymous with the Tea Party), the final solution was closer to what the right wanted than to the left. But the right wanted to eliminate several executive departments (Yesterday's Washington Examiner had a column advocating the Energy, Education, and Housing & Urban Development departments; Sen. Rand Paul has proposed a bill to eliminate Commerce as well as those three), eliminate the Medicare drug benefit, and many other reductions in the Federal Government that were not even approached. (Frankly, the department I would eliminate is Agriculture. When it was formed, more than half of all Americans were farmers. Today it is about 3%. Do they really need a whole Cabinet department devoted to their interests?)

Yes, this was a compromise. Both sides gave up something, and members of the two houses of Congress from both ends of the political spectrum refused to vote for it. But yet, Solomon Kleinsmith insists this was "not a centrist solution." I guess to me the center isn't what Kleinsmith thinks it is. But then, nobody has the power to define the center, I guess.


Solomon Kleinsmith said...

It is a provably hard right position, based on polling showing only 20% of people supporting that position. Less than 10% supported tax increases only, while almost 70% supported a mix, with more wanting more cuts than

Centrist is not a vague term. It means people who's stances are match up with center of the electorate. Based on polling the Fiscal Commission's plan was the most centrist I saw.

I'm not defining centrist, I'm using the term as it is defined, and not trying to twist it like you are trying to do here.

I'm not centrist on everything, I lean left on some things and right on others, but in this case my views are very much in line with what polling shows is the centrist view.

Opinionator said...

The facts are, the "hard-rightists" in both houses opposed this deal. So characterizing it as hard right is incorrect.

I'm not twisting anything. The poll you cite might show 20% supporting cuts only, 10% supporting new taxes only, 70% supporting a mix, but this is a function of the "one choice only" nature of the poll. If the poll were more subtle, and included all the options, including deeper cuts than were made, such as the Right wanted, and also allowed the people to choose more than one option giving them ratings ("range voting") or rankings ("Borda scores"), you'd get different results.

Looking at the fact that a large majority of the house, and approximately 3/4 of the Senate, supported the bill, including moderates like Olympia Snowe and even left-of-center people like Nancy Pelosi, this was clearly a compromise, even if you don't think so.