Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be laying out in greater detail the ideology of the PostModerate Platform. The first four tenets are grouped together under the title, “Foundations.”
That the best solutions to our problems remain within the republican-democratic framework embodied in our Constitution.
Tearing down the house is not an option. The ground rules for our government are clearly outlined in a 229 year old Constitution that begins with the words, “We the people . . .” Its seven articles and twenty-seven amendments have provided the American people with a solid foundation for responsible progress. Its strength lies in its simplicity and its longevity.
Some will rightly argue that progress hasn’t come quickly enough for many Americans, but the responsibility for those failures remains with our elected officials and the citizens who vote them into office. The best possible path to change is within the existing system using the power of our vote and the freedoms expressed within the 1st and 14th Amendments.
Representative government is still the best form of government for America. Communism, socialism, and excessive democracy are threats to the established system. Any attempts to fundamentally alter the structure of the republic should be met with suspicion and skepticism.
That conflict is inherent in politics and our discourse should be civil.
Until we achieve a cultural singularity, there will always be people of differing opinions and beliefs. Understanding this is the first step to finding compromise and common ground. By accepting the reality of inevitable opposing arguments, we loosen the hold of our passion over reason. Acknowledging the certainty of conflict allows us to better respond when our convictions are challenged by others. We are, and always have been, a debating society.
However, civil discourse is lacking in our present day. The Internet has opened up a world of anonymity that allows people to speak without thinking. As moderates, our goal will be to raise the standard of discussion to a level that we would use in real life. We must imagine each other as real people, not just random profile pictures serving as avatars for our digital selves.
Speak with passion, but communicate with civility. Don’t simply wait for your turn to talk. Learn to listen and engage your adversaries with the same measure of respect you expect to be returned. Instead of pointing out what’s wrong with your opponent’s point of view, first find out what’s right. Avoid the pitfalls of condescension and insult that disrupt the flow of conversation. Remember that the discussion is always more important than any one person’s position on an issue, including your own.
That the facts are not in dispute, but evidence is open to interpretation.
Statistical measures and scientific data have become more readily available to the average person. Within seconds, anyone can find relevant information on any topic or issue imaginable. This has led some to believe that almost everything can be proved with an absolute certainty; that facts will always lead to a definitive answer. Not so.
No single fact can stand on its own as a justification for taking a particular position. Instead, we collect and combine facts to create evidence and form educated opinions. For example, it is a fact that the United States added 151,000 jobs in January of 2016. It is also a fact that the labor participation rate in America is at a thirty-year low of 62.5%. Taken together, these two facts can be presented as evidence and interpreted differently. Some people will assert this data as proof of a rebounding job market. Others will claim that the low labor participation rate is indicative of a still struggling economy.
The reality always ends up being somewhere in the middle. Very few issues end up being definitive, because the evidence is determined by the individual with the opinion. In other words, we shape our beliefs by using our own experience and education to root out the relevance of certain facts over others. In the example above, someone who is unemployed will see those facts differently than the person who just got hired.
Because facts and evidence are so important to our ability to communicate, understanding the distinction between the two is crucial to moderate philosophy.
That finding compromise and common ground is our first principle.
Following these guidelines will allow us to have constructive debates that lead to a more productive government. By making compromise a priority we can relax our convictions and focus on positive results. For too long, our country has been satirically polarized into separate camps of right and left. The two major parties have divided us to the point of stagnation. As moderates, we believe that there is a middle path to prosperity and progress. Each of us will have to give up as much as we gain, but in the end, we’ll all end up in the same place.