I’ve been away for the past month and was unable to follow up on my first blog. But I’m back and ready to roll. I found one response to my speculation about the role of hysteria in political discourse — a good segue into another concern of mine. “Bobdisqus” commented “[y]ou have chosen ‘Musings of a Moderate’ for your blog title but when I look at the issues you used to illustrate hysteria for your article Benghazi and opposition to Second Amendment restrictions they seem fairly straight forward democratic partisan issues”.
I suppose “moderate” is in the eye of the beholder. But in my relative youth I voted for Gov. William Milliken, a man I very much admire to this day. Since I believe that he and I agree on most things, if he is a moderate I am a moderate. I’ll leave that judgment to the reader.
But Bobdisqus, perhaps inadvertently, raises an important issue. Should ideas be judged on the basis of their content or on the basis of those who espouse them? I chose the over-blown, clearly hysterical, response to the modest proposals for expanding background checks and limiting the size of ammunition clips because it was of recent relevance and leapt out as a good example. (The Benghazi flap deserves another blog.) After all, the proposals had strong public support, including from many gun-rights advocates. But the NRA and company characterized them as a full-blooded assault on the Second Amendment and cowed both parties in Congress.
So was the fact that President Obama, a Democrat, advocated these proposals evidence that I am not a moderate? Or should we look at whether the proposals are indeed a moderate response to gun violence? Can ideas be guilty by association?
The most extreme example of this faulty approach to weighing the merit of ideas that has occurred recently is the ridiculous flap over “Agenda 21.” As reported in the Record-Eagle, Leelanau County commissioners rejected Economic Development Corporation funding in part because the EDC used terms like “smart growth” and “sustainable development.” These terms also apparently are found in a document produced by a U.N.-sponsored outfit some twenty years ago. It focused on how development throughout the world could be accomplished in a way that provided good jobs and minimized harm to the environment.
As you probably know, that ridiculous demagogue Glenn Beck recently seized upon “Agenda 21″ to warn against a U.N. plot to enslave Americans by taking their land and driving them, carless, into cities. It borders on the bizarre that elected officials take this kind of drivel seriously. But their fear of an EDC — which is supported by the local chambers of commerce — because of the common use of terms that are harmless on their face tops the cake.
So I would ask those who bother to read my blogs to evaluate my ideas based on their content, not whether one party or another also holds them. Otherwise, I’ll have some readers who label me as a die-hard right-winger and some who label me as a pinko socialist. Then, given the way things work now, no one will read me.