Well-known conservative pundit John Podhoretz recently authored a piece intended to help Republicans win future elections. Among the key points of the column were that conservatives do not need to move to the center as many have suggested.
While acknowledging that bringing undecided voters over to the GOP is essential, he stresses that conservatives need not compromise their firm beliefs to do so. On the other hand, Podhoretz adds that the GOP should not be demonized for reaching out. To make this little bit of “now you see it, now you don’t” work he proceeds to eviscerate the “center” by reducing this most sensible group of Americans to quislings who deserve to be manipulated.
“Centrists,” he says, “by definition, do not follow the logic of ideologues, who believe one idea leads to another and then another until an entire philosophy is revealed.” He also writes that “the center is a place where convictions are far less strong. In the center, cheap emotion often has the advantage over passionately argued ideas.”
I still cannot get my head around those comments. Let me pose this to the accomplished scribe on the subjects of conviction and cheap emotion: There are no death panels. God did not cause the tsunami or 9/11 because men sleep together. The earth is not, I repeat, not, 6,000 years old. Liquefied brains no longer contain a human essence. Sarah Palin is not William F. Buckley. Joe the Plumber was a conservative icon. Obama was not born in Kenya from the seed of colonial-hating Communists. As much as there are issues on the left not to like (coming up), how can any movement expect to taken seriously when even this handful of nonsense is part of their creed?
On the other side of the fence, entitlements do need to be changed. Liberal political correctness is an abomination that stifles free thought and speech. Teachers unions are destroying our public schools, with help from politicians who enable them. Violence is cultural and not the result of guns. Big business needs to be regulated, but without it there is not the America we know it today.
Some issues cry for moderation. I would risk my life for Israel and her right to exist. But it does not make me an anti-Semite to question how residents of the Gaza are treated. I love my country to the bone, but resent those who believe a uniform is the only true path to patriotism. I cherish our system, but wonder how we can eliminate the power of money and the skill of marketing gurus and image makers. I envy those who believe, but want to eliminate all of it from any role in government. The balance among greed, entrepreneurial spirit and social responsibility will always be a tough. I believe in justice, even as we live often in the midst of injustice.
Many of the world’s great writers and poets have said they developed their creativity from the tension born of paradox and dichotomy—nuance. Anna Karenina courageously leaves her mean, controlling husband to take up with the love of her life. Nice. However, so much so does she love him that she leaves her child behind. She does it make it out of the classic alive. Even history is filled with middling non-clarity. Oscar Schindler was a serial adulterer and war profiteer who wore the Nazi pin. He saved thousands of Polish Jews from the gas chamber and a tree stands among the righteous at Yad Vashem in Israel.
It is precisely in the middle where our politicians should fish for votes. It just might be the home of common sense.