Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Last week, while I was mulling over the principles of the 912 Project, I fell into a long and rambling conversation with the two other members of one of the bands in which I play fiddle.  The three of us have somewhat different backgrounds and come down in different places on the political spectrum.  Still, through our conversation, I started to glimpse the possibility of a new political movement.

I later dubbed it "The League of Noisy Moderates."

Lots of people are out there making lots of noise, motivated either by rigid ideology, nameless fear, or some other force that deprives their speech of nuance as it raises the volume.

Meanwhile, thoughtful people, those who might be willing and able to do the actual hard work of democracy, sit back quietly and shake their heads.

Enough of this. The time has come for those of us who are in the broad political middle - from thoughtful conservatives to thoughtful progressives, and everyone in between - to take to the streets in angry protest, demanding . . .

an end to angry street protests?

Oh, never mind.


Doc Nagel said...

I've looked at politics from both sides now

... and I have comments.

I don't believe the extremists the media presents to us are political or moral equivalents. That's not to say they aren't both behaving stupidly when we see them or read about them. I mean that dismissing them may deny us some perspective.

In union activism, there are often multiple levels of political effort, ranging from internal dialogue (among union leaders and with membership), to one-on-one meetings with legislators, to letter-writing campaigns, to rallies and protests. That the protests are loud, theatrical, and not put together to make an argumentative case does not mean that the argumentative case isn't there, and isn't being made - even at the same event. Theater attracts people, attention, and media coverage we need in order to put our case out to the public, and we have to put our case out to the public in the soundbites that media permits.

It's easier to oppose than to propose in the soundbite media world, because in general, in its rhetorical thrust, claiming that something ought to be changed requires providing reasons more than saying no.

Given the narrow, disappearing ideological difference between the dominant political parties, I'm not sure in respect of what one would define a moderate position. (I'd be interested to pursue this.) Luckily, I'm a total wacko progressive greeno, so my own position is clearly out of bounds entirely in US politics. This comforts.

Finally, I'd like to point out that Blogger's word verification letter sequences are too often too creepily word-like for my tastes, especially when I am reading and commenting first thing in the morning.

Robert Kirkman said...

(Hmm . . . let's see. What ad hoc principles can I invent for the League of Noisy Moderates to respond to this comment?)

What I've cast here as moderation isn't meant to be a dismissal of political extremists. Rather, as I've hoped to demonstrate in previous posts on the 912 Project, it's meant to peel back the inarticulate rage and the unthinking distortion to find the very really questions lurking underneath, the kinds of questions that always merit a lot of attention.

But then, those of us actually interested in crafting practicable answers to those questions should start to get noisy ourselves, insisting, very loudly, that people actually think about these things, and give due consideration to other perspectives . . . on the working assumption that holding a different perspective does not, in fact, make one evil or, worse, un-American.

It seems to follow that moderation is not meant to imply that righteous anger is never appropriate in the public realm. Sometimes, you just gotta be noisy.

But let our noisiness be in the service of a broader, more open conversation among informed and engaged citizens, not toward mere manipulation of this or that lever of power.

(The author of this blog is not responsible for any psychological damage occasioned by Blogger's word verification system.)