Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Note to Gov. Walker: avoidance is not “moderation”

Walker would rather we call him a moderate than actually be one

Gov. Scott Walker recently told the Wisconsin State Journal that he and his Republican allies in the legislature would be pushing for a more “moderate” agenda in the second half of his first term in office.
“We're not going to do things that are going to bring 80,000 or 100,000 people into the Capitol,” Walker told the State Journal in a recent interview. “It's just not going to happen again.”
While it’s commendable that Walker should seek out a more “moderate” agenda, saying he's moderate and actually sticking to it are two different things. Time will tell whether Walker’s agenda will truly be more inclusive, or whether it will turn out to be just as extreme as the first two years of his term.

Unfortunately, it seems as though Walker and Republicans aren’t proposing moderation for the right reasons. In fact, it seems more likely that it's being done in order to “save face” in the eyes of moderate voters.

Gov. Walker tries to portray himself as a "moderate."
Gov. Walker wouldn’t be the first to use “moderation” as a means to garner greater appeal. But his characterization of moderation is flawed, and not a true definition of the word.

For example, consider Walker’s “moderate” stance on eliminating same-day voter registration. Following the election last November, Walker was convinced that the decade’s-old practice of allowing Wisconsinites to register to vote on Election Day was worth getting rid of, despite having no shred of evidence that the practice did any harm to the voting process.

But Walker changed his mind when it was revealed that doing away with same-day registration would cost the state more than $5 million initially and several million dollars in subsequent years.

A moderate stance on the issue of same-day registration wouldn’t be changing your mind because it conflicts with your fiscal agenda; rather, it’d be changing your mind (or not even opposing the practice in the first place) because it conflicts with your beliefs on allowing people greater access to the polls.

Walker also came out strongly against a so-called “right to work” (for less) law reaching his desk. Though he didn’t say he would veto such a law, Walker did insist that it would be a distraction for the state, possibly creating protests much like those seen at the start of his tenure when he sought to destroy public sector workers’ rights.

While it’s good news that Walker won’t be actively pushing “right to work” in Wisconsin, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence to hear him base his reasoning on such a battle being too much work for him to handle. It’s also important to keep in mind that, before he was governor, Walker once proposed a “right to work” law when he himself was working in the legislature.

Being a moderate isn’t saying you won’t do something because it’s too hard, or because it’d create too much of an uproar. Indeed, avoiding the subject rather than taking a definitive stance on it is in no way the definition of “moderation.”

Instead, a moderate considers the positions of two or more distinct ideologies, taking into account all points of view that are involved, and makes a rational decision on the subject that appeals to everyone, at least in some way.

Most important, a “moderate” is typically someone who isn’t a radical or extreme, in one direction or the other. They do take a stand on issues, but theirs stances aren’t usually the kind that cause the left or the right to be flabbergasted. Their de facto position, however, isn’t doing nothing at all on a matter, hoping to avoid confrontation from the public, as the governor is trying to make it seem.

If we take anything from this, it’s that Walker wants to be called a “moderate” more than actually being one. His stances aren’t in the middle -- and hiding those stances from the public’s eye doesn’t make him any less of a right-wing ideologue.

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