Be careful of the “moderate middle” trap.

Of course, I agree with Erika Sanzi across the board on the issues she mentions in her latest Valley Breeze op-ed.  Support for school choice and opposition to vaccine and mask mandates, radical gender ideology, and racial indoctrination — check, check, check, and check.

For that reason, I want to issue a little bit of a warning about this conclusion upon attending an event in D.C.:

I was in the presence of the moderate middle, people from different political persuasions who find the extremes in both parties tiresome, unhinged, and useless when it comes to solving problems. My gut tells me that most of us find ourselves somewhere in this moderate middle, regardless of party affiliation or political philosophy. At the moment, the most active and engaged subgroup within the moderate middle seems to be parents. They are Democrats, Republicans, independents, and apolitical types who only became political when COVID brought school into their kitchen and living room. What remains to be seen is what this bipartisan parent movement will mean come election time, but after the victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia’s governor’s race and the successful recall of three school board members in San Francisco, I’m confident it will mean something.

Framing this coalition as the “moderate middle” is wrong for at least four reasons.

First, the members aren’t necessarily “moderate” in their feelings about the issues that bring them together or about others.  They’re in such fervent agreement on their coalition’s core concerns that they are willing to put other differences aside.

Second, this group isn’t really a “middle.”  Being non-extreme leaves a whole lot of Left and Right in play that can’t be assigned as the “middle,” because then most people will be in the “middle” most of the time.

Third, Sanzi’s “middle” isn’t really pinned between two groups.  Its constituents are aligned against the radical woke Left.  That fact does not make it a conservative movement, but it’s far too easy to fall prey to divisive internecine “both-sidesism” if the movement builds in a need to imagine somethign it opposes on the right that isn’t fundamentally applicable to its core mission.

This point leads us to: Fourth, promoting a “moderate middle” brand leaves the movement vulnerable to erosion.  Once people are thinking of themselves in those terms, they are susceptible to disingenuous calls to denounce one ally or another as “immoderate.”  Their motivating grievances will be diluted with the impulse to make them fit the moderate brand.


Featured image by Eran Menashri on Unsplash.

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