When the 2012 GOP race for the nomination was starting to heat up last summer, we all saw the prospective nominees run rightward. In fact, we got to the point where Mitt Romney was blasted as being liberal for supporting an individual mandate, which was a huge Republican talking point in the mid-90s.
As mainstream conservatism keeps moving further rightward, so has our definition of moderate. The media especially has turned “moderates” out of Jon Huntsman, Tim Pawlenty & Dick Lugar. In fact, the new definition of moderate seems to be correlated to “non-controversial Republican official”.
Jon Huntsman was no moderate, make no mistakes about it. Sure he supported civil unions & was down with science, but Huntsman was for restricting abortion and the Cato Institute spoke in favor with his tax plans. Huntsman supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the Dodd-Frank Act & was in support of the Bush tax cuts.
Sure, Huntsman talks well and seems to be a very educated and respectable man but by calling him a moderate; we must then call every single GOP member who supports science and some civil unions one too.
We’ve become so de-sensitized to the antics of new conservatism that we forget what moderate truly means. Moderates usually get the praise of people on the other side for “being a voice of reason” but truly, they are members who are a mix of both parties. They might skew fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Or vice-versa.
The insistence on giving some officials the phrase “moderate” seems to be more of a media creation or a signal of false hope a la conversations about a true third party. Moderate now are those conservatives who have a good public image and thus get respect from progressives solely due to the fact that they don’t sign a Norquist pledge.
This isn’t to silence moderates or centrists, but why do we insist on equating sanity to political centrism?
The answer lies in whenever a vial of hatred is uncorked by the GOP to prove that Barack Obama isn’t an American citizen or when we live in a society in which Donald Trump is seen as a serious political name. Moderates in the GOP do not exist as new conservatism has rendered them a near-extinct cause.