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Over the last couple of weeks a question has been percolating in the back of my mind, in a way that combined both importance and vagueness. It was only just now, as I sat down and weighed which of the many topics I should choose to hold forth on this time, that it finally crystallized into the question I’m using for the title. “When is moderation not appropriate?” One assumes that the application of this question to the most recent election is obvious, but it’s also a far bigger question, encompassing things like war, morality, and existential risk. (We’ll see how much I can actually cover.) Additionally, and perhaps more important to me personally, it’s a question I’m not sure I have a very good answer for, so in part this post will be about working through various situations, hypotheticals, and arguments to see if I can arrive at or at least approach an answer.
First let’s cover the situation which spawned this post, the election outcome. It’s easy to imagine, that as close as it ended up being, that if Trump had been just slightly more moderate on some of the issues, slightly less belligerent on Twitter, spoken a little bit more about the need for unity and a little bit less only to his base, or perhaps if he had just been less combative during that first debate, that he would have won. Or to put it another way it’s hard for most people (including me) to imagine how he could have been less moderate. And I understand all the points about firing up the base, and turnout, but it’s hard to imagine that his most ardent supporters would have stayed home from an election they widely viewed as an existential crisis, even if he had exercised a little more moderation, and there were lots of groups, like Cuban and Veneuzeulan immigrants who held their nose, and voted for Trump. (Without whom he probably would have lost Florida.) Might not even more people have done that if Trump had been just slightly more moderate?
Further, even if you acknowledge that some extremism is necessary to fire up the base, there’s the argument to be made even there that he was too extreme, with the result that now his base can’t imagine a way for him to have lost the election without fraud. Something which will almost certainly haunt the country in the coming weeks and months, if not the coming years. (For a discussion of the actual allegations see my previous post.)
The same case for moderation might be made when it comes to Democrats as well — though one doesn’t want to spend too much time questioning Biden’s strategy, he did win after all (absent something unprecedented happening). But outside of Biden there is plenty of room to question whether the larger Democratic strategy would have benefitted from greater moderation, particularly given that, contrary to expectations, the Republicans are very likely to hold on to the Senate and they did far better than expected in the House elections as well. Suggestions for moderation on the Democrat’s part might include slightly greater patriotism, more nuance in the conflict between police and protestors, less discussion of court packing (recall that Biden refused to comment on it for quite a while before eventually declaring that he was not a fan) and in particular less extremism in the culture war. One common assessment of the election I heard is that even if Biden won, wokeness lost.
I suspect that some of my readers might push back on this last point so in an effort to anticipate potential objections let me offer two further points: First, how many people were voting against Trump rather than for Biden? Does anyone think the enormous turn out had anything to do with excitement around Biden? If not, then it matters a lot less what Biden’s positions were, he had the “anyone but Trump” vote locked down. “Okay,” you might retort, “That frees him to take whatever position he wants, but doesn’t mean he should have been more moderate, perhaps he should have moved more to the left.” Are you sure? While we can’t recreate the world, start over in 2018, and choose Sanders or Warren in place of Biden, does anyone imagine that, in what ended up being a very close election, they would have done better? Certainly none of the polls conducted back when all three of them were still in contention bear that idea out.
All of this leads me to conclude that Trump and the Democrats would have done better with more moderation. Does this mean that moderation is always good? Well, that is my question isn’t it, when is it not appropriate? As I said above I think the case for Biden being more moderate is kind of ambiguous, if the results hold (and I have every reason to suspect they will) then he won, and second guessing success is always dangerous, particularly if you define success narrowly. But as long as we’re on the subject of the most recent election, would the Republicans have done even better in the House and Senate if they had been more moderate? Here we have the same situation we had with Biden. If we assume that the Republicans don’t lose both senate races in January’s special election then they will maintain control of the Senate. And if we suggest they should have been more moderate we are once again in the position of second guessing success. Though here, when talking about greater moderation among Senate Republicans, the elephant of confirming Amy Coney Barrett can’t be overlooked.
From a Republican/conservative perspective, the nomination of Barrett would appear to be a huge win. Not only is it something which fundamentally tilts the balance of power in the branch of government which increasingly appears to wield the most power — though I have already mentioned I don’t think her confirmation will be as consequential as people expect — it’s a change which will last far beyond the next election, presumably all the way until Justice Thomas retires or dies. I know lots of people who voted for Trump primarily because his Supreme Court picks would be better than Clinton’s, and who were overjoyed that he put in three justices. In the time between the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the election their attitude seemed to be that losing the presidency and the Senate to get that final appointment was a trade they were more than willing to make (I definitely agree about the presidency, I’m less sure about the Senate).
Of course all of this presumes that the Democrats don’t come along later and pack the court, or otherwise change the rules of game, but by keeping the Senate, that option is temporarily off the table, it’s like eating your cake and having it, and here we get the first example of where, at least from a certain perspective, moderation seems not to have been a virtue, certainly the moderate thing to do would have been to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, and then, presumably the Democrats would have had no room (or at least less room) to object to the replacement of RBG by a more conservative justice. But for the moment it would appear, at least from the Republican perspective, that they were correct to not exercise moderation. That by being extreme they won. It is of course a whole other question whether the country is better off because of their relative extremism, certainly there’s a very good argument to be made that it’s not. Nevertheless we can at least begin to see (if we couldn’t already) the shape of an argument for extremism.
Rather than pick around the edges of this argument let’s go straight to what most people would agree is the clearest example of the benefits of extremism: World War II and in particular the fight against Nazi Germany. Much of Churchill’s deserved reputation is based on the fact that he didn’t have a moderate bone in his body, and during the darkest days of World War II when Britain stood entirely alone, he wouldn’t even consider some kind of peace deal, treaty or accommodation. On the other hand, one imagines that the Germans would have been better off with significantly less extremism, which is to say that Churchill’s extremism was mostly justified by Hitler’s extremism. And there are definitely some people who would argue that the extremism of turfing Garland and shoving through Barrett and before her, Brett Kavanaugh was justified by liberal extremism, like Roe v. Wade, the Bork nomination and Obergefell v. Hodges. And the fact that it was justified is why they weren’t punished for it, why the Republicans seem likely to hold on to the Senate.
At this point all that’s clear is that much of the time moderation is better, but that sometimes things have gotten so bad that only extremism will save the day, but how do we know in advance which is which? I imagine Churchill would have answered that he didn’t, that it could have gone the other way, but that it didn’t matter because he was following correct principles. That he was determined to do the right thing regardless of the consequences. Of course saying that extremism is appropriate when it’s the right thing is just a tautology. If something is the right thing it’s always appropriate. But it also just moves the question deeper from a question of extremism vs. moderation to a question of right vs. wrong.
Questions of right and wrong automatically suggest morality, and from there it’s only a short trip to a discussion of religion. Many people argue that it is precisely the certainty of being right that makes religious extremism so prevalent. These same people often go on to point to the many harms committed in the name of religion, but at least with religion there exist comprehensive rules and commandments designed to carefully control what sort of extremism is and isn’t justified. Do these rules aways work? Are the commandments always followed? No. But I think it’s important to have some kind of measuring stick for determining when to seek a compromise and when to stand fast and refuse to retreat. And before we return to a discussion of the present political moment it might be useful to dig into what religion says about when to be extreme and when to be moderate.
Obviously the first thing we need to do before we can proceed is select a scope for our inquiry, which is to say we need to choose which religions we’re going to examine. Obviously I have a bias towards Christianity, and an even more specific bias towards The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which is my own brand of Christianity, but given the foundational nature of Christianity to the West and its contribution to the West’s government and institutions I think it’s fair to restrict our inquiry to just Chrisitianity rather trying to be more comprehensive and make a broader survey that might include Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and the rest. Beyond all of the foregoing I have an additional bias towards using Christianity because moderation holds such a prominent place in the doctrine. Yes there are times when extremism is urged, but what made Christianity revolutionary was how much it emphasized moderation, with injunctions about turning the other cheek, the critical importance of forgiveness and repentance and mercy, and even bits about separating religion from politics (particularly important in a day where politics increasingly is religion.)
From this assumption of Christianity as somewhat foundational, I’m going to cut to the chase and condense two thousand years of history, commentary, and practice down into a single observation: when you’re talking about Christian-influenced Western Civ, moderation should be presumed to be the default. Moderation doesn’t need to be justified, it’s assumed to be the best course of action absent a compelling argument to the contrary, but rather it’s extremism which requires special justification. So when and under what circumstances is extremism justified? I think given the tenuous linkage of religion to politics and the aforementioned separation that it’s going to be easier to look at examples of extremism and ask whether they might be justified based on some interpretation of Western/Christian values than to work the other direction and create a set of rules that covers all eventualities.
The first consideration I want to deal with, since it’s already come up, is whether, in our examples, success should have any bearing on whether extremism is considered justified or not. If Trump had won instead of lost (or if he manages, improbably, to still pull out a win) there would be a lot of people celebrating his extremism rather than questioning it. As it was he certainly did better than most professional pollsters predicted. Does this mean that his extremism would have been wholly justified if he had won, but still partially when you consider the results? No, and I think this is where the benefits of drawing on an underlying foundation of religious principles comes in handy, because under that framework “winning” is not one of the acceptable justifications for extremism. To look at the example everyone agrees with, it’s clear that extremism in the war against the Nazis would have been justified even if we had lost. And lest there be any confusion I’m talking about refusing to surrender in the early years of the war, I’m not talking about extreme behavior. For example, I don’t think the fire-bombing of Dresden was justified even if the city was full of Nazis. (Which it wasn’t.)
Now Trump’s extremism might have been justified on other grounds, but it isn’t justified solely on the grounds of getting him what he wants. The ends he’s pursuing have to be justified, i.e. does a Trump victory save lives, prevent disaster or build a better future? Of course his supporters believe he is doing all of those things, and his opponents believe that he’s doing the opposite, and only time will tell who is correct, and I could imagine certain events over the next three years that would lead me to conclude that not only was Trump’s extremism justified but that he should have been even more extreme. Similarly I can imagine events that would lead me to believe that his extremism was incredibly harmful. But “time will tell” is different than, “well it succeeded didn’t it?”
Perhaps some people have been gifted with this certainty, through what that means I don’t know. To return to religion, it’s a least easier to imagine the gift of certainty coming from religious devotion, than coming from Trump, but perhaps those people convinced of the value of Trump’s extremism are just that smart. I am currently watching with rapt curiosity people who claim with exactly that level of certainty that Trump will serve a second term. Perhaps they will be correct, and then I’ll have some new mystery to ponder, but I suspect that they and actually most people who imagine they can predict the future will end up being wrong, and that this represents one of the great achievements of classical liberalism, this realization and the subsequent injection of doubt. This realization that if certainty is nearly impossible and extremism is only justified under such certainty, i.e. that moderation should be the default, is one of the most important intellectual developments of the modern age.
This takes us back to the other example we gave of extremism succeeding, the Senate’s confirmation of three conservative justices, starting with refusing to hold a hearing for Merric Garland. Depending on your political leanings this is either an example of the worst political extremism in modern memory, of, “well it succeeded didn’t it?” or of “time will tell”. So far the answer is ambiguous. The court has yet to engage in much extremism itself, they have not overturned Roe v. Wade or done anything else the conservatives hoped for and the liberals feared. Meanwhile the whole process has definitely raised the temperature, and while it seems unlikely to result in an immediate reprisal from “the other side”, it certainly could. And here one can’t help but be reminded (if you weren’t already) of the Prisoner’s Dilemma.
As I mentioned the last time it came up, if one conducts iterated games of Prisoner’s Dilemma some strategy of mostly cooperating ends up evolving to be the most successful one, with the caveat that constantly defecting can be surprisingly effective, particularly if the rest of the environment is composed of cooperators. At the time, I wondered if that’s what had happened to us. If we had reached a peak of cooperation and in doing so created an environment ripe for success by defectors. Certainly it seems that whatever the short term success of defecting that it leads to a longer term ratcheting effect that can’t help but end badly, even if you’re on the side doing all the defecting.
In this I’m also reminded of my discussion on the dichotomy between mercy and justice. Extremism seems to lend itself naturally to seeking justice, but is a poor fit if what we really need is more mercy, while the opposite could be said for moderation. And if, as I claimed, one of the problems currently plaguing us, is an overactive drive for justice, then this may explain as well the overabundance of extremism as well. This dynamic seems to be playing out in the immediate aftermath of the election. I have seen lots of people express a desire to be merciful in victory. Offering to accept Trump followers back into the fold so to speak (however condescending that my sound). This is oftentimes accompanied by calls for unity and healing. On the other hand, I will also say that I have seen what appears to be an equally large contingent of people arguing that what’s really needed is justice. That Trump and his supporters need to be punished, or at a minimum deprogrammed.
These additional connections of moderation to mercy, of which we appear to be running an extreme deficit, and to winning the continual games of Prisoner’s Dilemma we seem to be playing, on top of moderation’s critical role in Western Liberalism and the religion that underpins it, convince me even more of the importance of considering moderation the default. But in such difficult times, when the opposite seems to be happening and extremism is everywhere we look, how do we achieve more moderation? I don’t know and despite growing recognition that more is needed we seem to continually end up with less and less as time goes on.
Here let me put in another brief plug for my preferred Presidential candidate: General James Mattis. The primary reason I decided to write him in was because it was low stakes, there was no chance writing him in would lead to the death of the Republic (and I made my argument at the time for why no other vote represented the salvation of the Republic.) But beyond how low risk it was, he reminds me of Eisenhower to a certain extent. The fact that both were generals is the obvious point of comparison, but the other less well known fact about Eisenhower is that he identified with neither party and the first time he voted it was for himself. He was so non-partisan in fact that the first person to reach out to him about running for President was Truman, who, incredibly, suggested Ike for President, while he would be vice-president.
Mattis is similarly non-partisan, and one imagines that if we’re really going to have a chance of bringing moderation to things that we need someone who hasn’t been fatally tarred by their deep association with one or the other camp. And while admittedly Mattis did serve under Trump, there appears to be no love lost between the two, with Trump blasting him as the “world’s most overrated general” recently after Mattis said he hopes that Biden pursues a foreign strategy that’s not “America First”.
(As a brief aside, I myself think that we can’t remain the policemen of the world forever, and that Trump’s attempts to extract us from our various overseas commitments is a step in the right direction. That said, American hegemony is so critical to the peace we’ve enjoyed, that there is not only room for disagreement, but I could also certainly be persuaded that it would work better if it was more gradual with greater involvement from other nations.)
If I have any better ideas on how to achieve more moderation I’ll let you know, but beyond being out of ideas, I’m also out of space. When I started this post I had also intended to talk about environmental issues, x-risks and other issues where moderation appears to work worse than extremism, but those are big topics, so I’ll have to come back to them in a future post.
Sometimes things don’t come together in quite the way you hoped. Such was the case with this episode, and then the question becomes is it worth putting it out anyway? Can people listening to it still expect a positive return? I think so, and whether you feel that way about this episode, if you feel that my blog in general provides positive returns, consider donating.
I think there is a strong trend toward moderation because using less force is simply less directly dangerous. Often, though not always, it costs less and has less severe side effects. Moderation is not always more effective, but it’s simply less expensive and dangerous, statistically. I think you make a good case for this with your write-in vote for Mattis–he’s more likely NOT to produce a negative outcome, which gives all those people working for a good one time to work.
The counterpoint is that we also have to use enough force to accomplish our goal, and in an adversarial or high-stakes situation, that can still mean mustering a LOT of force–or all of it. It’s hard to estimate exactly how much force you need, and in wars emotions run hot. So we get Nagasaki and Dresden. But we also get counter-lessons like the Bataan Death March, which taught the allies that they should never strategically surrender, since death was inevitable, and thus better if it included enemy deaths. Surrender was obviously more sane, but the Japanese in WW2 were arguably not sane at all. So if you think your enemy is totally unreasonable or if you are extremely desperate, more extreme choices are more appealing.
Quite a few Trump supporters have been convinced that all Democrats, even a moderate old man like Biden, are far-left antifa extremists who pose an existential threat to all Republicans. At least that’s what not-a-few of my college-educated, conservative friends claim. If that rhetoric doesn’t die down, it seems it will lead to an increasingly harmful escalation. And in my opinion we want to respond to that escalation with the minimum possible force–because Cambodia, Rowanda , and the American Civil War have already provided excellent demonstrations of why we don’t want to kill large segments of our population. Moderation is actually the only tool that can lead to a good outcome, since so many people and resources are tied up in this particular fight.
But as a side note, I think that you can actually get away with using extreme tactics on a very small scale. If the number of people involved in a delusional radical movement is tiny, you actually can just throw them all in prison or kill them–IF you get them all and nobody notices. But if you miss even a few, you might help radicalize more people through your response. Rules of engagement and due process of law are safeguards against using shortcuts of force you will probably later regret.
“Quite a few Trump supporters have been convinced that all Democrats, even a moderate old man like Biden, are far-left antifa extremists who pose an existential threat to all Republicans. At least that’s what not-a-few of my college-educated, conservative friends claim.”
I’ve had enough of the absurd rhetoric. I have one conservative friend whose convinced Trump will win court cases and win the election. I’ve offered to bet him $100 to $1 that Biden won’t even lose a single electoral vote, he won’t put $1 on the line.
After being jerked around for years now, if a few Trump supporters want to play Civil War then tell them to go do it and get shot down in the process. But if these people are over 18 years old they’ve already lived through a decade of Biden as Vice President during which time they probably did just fine for themselves. If they want to now throw away their lives for Steve Bannon, tell them go do it. At the end of the day most bullies back down but if this is their goal in life then best pull the band aid off now and get it out rather than spend another 4 year of gaslighting, fake claims and endless dishonsty. I suppose that may seem like a non-moderate position but I think it might actually be a very moderate one. At the end of the day we have to move forward which means dropping the pretenses and laying the cards on the table.
Keep in mind, Bannon did demonstrate when the online mob is called into real world action, the ocean ends up being much shallower than Facebook likes and Youtube views would lead one to believe. But if we are going to have a Civil War let’s lay the cards on the table now, it’s better to know than not.
Hmm… Okay, I guess I can see your point, but the problem in these situations is always the additional people that get radicalized by heavy-handed tactics. In other words if you decide it’s better to have a Civil War now rather than later how do you “kick it off” without appearing to be the aggressor and therefore the one most at fault. And what policy do you implement which is guaranteed to start a civil war, but which doesn’t come across as completely unjustified to the moderate middle. The best theory I’ve heard for the increased share of Latinos and Blacks who voted for Trump is that they thought Biden was going to usher in socialism. That seems like an exaggeration, but if they think that now, imagine how much they’ll think it and how many more will join them if we decide to round up Trump supporters and put them in re-education camps.
I’m not proposing to ‘kick it off’, I’m proposing those implying they are on the verge of it to do it or be quiet. If they want to get into their pickup trucks with their guns and Trump flags and try to do an armed caravan to stop the inaugeration while Trump tweets from his NYC skyscrapper, then let’s see it and how well that turns out for them. I think the energy is going out of this crew exponentially every week but let’s see now what they want to do….as opposed to some random shooting two years from now.
I suspect we’ll see a handful of events, but a civil war that fails into impotence might just be the most moderating event this country needs.
Well, the rhetoric is absurd, but it is just that—rhetoric. There have been few acts of violence over Trump’s denigration of the vote. I am certainly very concerned about it, but I think there was a lot more violence over police brutality (from agitators, police AND entirely legitimate protesters) than over Trump’s claims of election fraud. Correct me if you think I am wrong.
The reality is that unless we actually change the minds of Republican voters, it’s pretty intractable, and I don’t really have a solution. The fact that so many people believe just about anything that Trump says at this point is evidence that something is very, very wrong. If 70 million people will believe, without evidence, that the least popular president in a century secretly won the election but that thousands of people across multiple states somehow conspired to steal it from him… I mean I don’t even know what to do about that. But I know that violence is NOT what to do about it.
Well we know about 93% of the protests over police brutality were peaceful. We also know at least a few of the remaining 7% had right wing provacators involved, including one guy who fired 13 rounds from an AK-47 at a police station in Minneapolis, the killing of two security offiers in CA by bugaloo boys, and the infamous ‘man in black’ who broke the windows at an autozone starting a riot in Minneapolice again.
There was also the plot to kidnap and ‘try’ the governor of Maine (let’s be honest, they would have almost certained have murdered her as well). Voting officals and counters have received numerous death threats and as you noted there was the Qanon guys who did go to Philly with fake ballots and guns, presumably to try to ‘correct’ the count there. The only reason I think counting happened resonably well is because the process differs county to county and it isn’t obvious where to attack unless you’ve spent time studying the voting methods in one particular locality.
The potential is now alive and well and out there. IMO another key difference is what you touch upon when you are at a loss for words how to make sense of their claims. The arguments over police brutality are exactly that, arguments. People have assertions and they want you to believe they are right but you can look at them and counter with your own. The conspiracy stuff from the right are not a set of arguments with bad assertions or faulty logic you can argue with. It’s designed from the beginning to NOT be an argument but only mimic an argument. They either want you to demonstrate loyalty by making absurd ‘arguments’ that are clearly false or they want you to be cowed and out of their way.
In some respects I think this is a bit like Covid. It is quite real but because it doesn’t have a terrifyingly high mortality rate like ebola or SARSI (30-40%), it can be just low enough to lull people into thinking everything is normal.
The 93% statistic only counts protests from May 26th to August 22nd of this year. If we went all the way back to the Ferguson riots, I wonder if the stat would be the same. BTW, was George Floyd’s “Burn this @#$% down!” father a right-wing provocateur?
Also, that 7% is still highly visible and highly costly, just ask Portland. Now, that being said, I am cautiously optimistic about “wokeness” having lost the last election. Much has been said about Trump’s failure to reject the alt-right, so let’s see if Biden can do better, by rejecting the woke left to the point where the same people who support riots every time a black person is shot by police regardless of reason, or destroying someone’s career over an old tweet, also reject Biden.
I think the 7% was deeply misunderstood. For example, Bret Weinstein had the observation that even in WWII, most soldiers spent almost all of the time waiting around with nothing happening so can’t you say war is 97% peaceful?
Well no. A protest was defined as not peaceful if anything happened. If you had 10,000 people protesting and two guys get into a fist fight, it is part of the 7% despite 99.98% of everyone behaving.
If you wanted to make an analogy then, it would be like saying “Imagine if 97% of WWII battles were peaceful”. But that wouldn’t work very well since military historians wouldn’t even label something a battle if not a single person fired a weapon.
“let’s see if Biden can do better, by rejecting the woke left to the point where the same people who support riots every time a black person is shot by police regardless of reason, or destroying someone’s career over an old tweet, also reject Biden.”
This represents practically nobody. Preoccupation with being ‘anti-woke culture’ is an elitist cause dominated mostly by privileged click whores who worry about their vested interests while also seeking to limit competition. Think of them as really obnoxious union reps of people who don’t have a formal union.
That is a good point, the idea that you have to be at least extreme enough to accomplish your goal, which is to say if you decide extremism is better than moderation than you probably shouldn’t wimp out. (Interestingly enough Mattis has a lot of examples in his biography of exactly this happening in Iraq.) I’ll probably have to touch on this if I come back to it.
Indeed this requires more thought. I suspect, though, the worst thing we could do for moderation is some variation on “I know you want a civil war, let’s sit down and talk about it”. Those going for that on one side cannot be indulged as just another part of the grand discourse.
“Suggestions for moderation on the Democrat’s part might include slightly greater patriotism, more nuance in the conflict between police and protestors, less discussion of court packing (recall that Biden refused to comment on it for quite a while before eventually declaring that he was not a fan) and in particular less extremism in the culture war. ”
Well Biden explicitly rejected defund the police, rejected the Green New Deal, and spoke up his son’s service in Iraq…..this reminds me during the Obama administration whenever police brutality was a topic, Obama always balanced any criticism of police with recognition of the risks they take. The payback? “You never talk about police officers who die”. It got to a point where his staff spliced together all the examples of where he did so they could just send that back in response, only to be ignored.
I’m not saying Democrats should have ran Warren or Sanders. Biden was probably an exceptionally good choice, and exceptionally surprising in a Truman sort of way. The type of man everyone looks past until he gets into office and then people start seeing the nuances. But the fact is whoever Democrats ran it would have been riots, radicalism and socialism as the counter argument. Fact is most of those materials were created earlier in the year when Sanders was the presumed nominee and campaign people cut corners.
Right and that’s why Biden won, he distanced himself from these things, while the Democrats in general (rightly or wrongly) were perceived not to, and they ended up (probably) losing their chance to take back the Senate.
Perhaps it wasn’t clear but the paragraph you quoted was directed at Democratic legislators, not Biden.
Possibly, although I’m not sure that’s an easy case to make on the ground. I suspect most of the purple states that went for Biden did NOT have Democratic Senate challengers who ran to the left of Biden. I do agree the solution is not to try to run AOC’s in purple states, although some AOC ideas like universal coverage could work IMO.
For every aphorism, there is an equal and opposite aphorism.
Moderation in all things (to ensure we don’t accidentally change things in the wrong direction) runs directly counter to boiling the frog (where bad changes often come because too much moderation allows us to steer into the worst waters without noticing where we’re going).
There’s a reason for this rule of aphorisms: there’s no substitute for judgement.
Indeed, but the word “judgement” is carrying an enormous amount of weight in that sentence.
Yes. Life is too rich to be broken down into single-rule solutions that are always applicable. If it were, there would be no evolutionary advantage to evolving costly, complicated brains.