The Soul of Moderation [Updated]

Today Instapundit linked to a test you can take that will situate you on two axes. One is from left to right on economic issues, the other is authoritarian vs. libertarian. Having some minutes to spare, I took the test. This is the profile it delivered:

So, somewhat on the right on economic issues, and slightly tilting toward the libertarian, but close to the middle on both axes. That might surprise those who denounce me as a right-wing extremist, while perhaps vindicating those who consider us Power Liners to be squishes. To me, it prompts several thoughts.

First, it is basically correct. Mark Steyn once described me as “the soul of moderation,” which I thought was insightful. While I do battle here every day in the conservative cause, in a sane world I would be considered a moderate. It is only in the bizarre political landscape of 21st century America that someone like me is considered a right-winger.

I can see why the test scored me as a moderate. For one thing, with a few exceptions, I checked “agree” or “disagree” rather than “strongly agree” or “strongly disagree.” And a number of the questions seemed rather nuanced to me; in a few cases, I disagreed with the proposition as stated, while being sympathetic to the broader attitude underlying the question.

How about the libertarian scale? Like most American conservatives, I consider myself to be libertarian-leaning. But I think I understand why I came out near the middle on this test. One question was, do you agree or disagree with the statement that, because we can’t always trust corporations to do the right thing, we need environmental regulations?

There are lots of ways you could respond to that, beginning with asking, what is the right thing that a company should do? A different question asked whether the only duty of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders (or something like that), which I agreed with.

But as for environmental regulation: it isn’t a question of whether companies are evil. But companies run by responsible people have long advocated–like, for around 200 years–for responsible regulatory regimes so that companies that cut corners by, for example, discharging hazardous wastes into rivers, don’t enjoy a competitive advantage. A uniform regulatory system that applies to all both preserves the public interest in a cleaner environment, and allows companies to compete on a level playing field, following the same rules. Call me a disgrace to the libertarian cause, but I am OK with that.

Also, can we be practical here? Go ahead and run on a platform of abolishing all environmental regulations. See how many votes you get. Our objective is to win, not to prove our purity by taking positions that have virtually zero public support.

Of course we are living in a time in which environmental regulation has been perverted to serve the economic interests of those that finance, and are dependent on, the Democratic Party. That must be opposed, and we fight against it constantly on this site. But that doesn’t negate the concept of environmental regulation.

You can analogize it to the criminal law. Yes, at the moment the Democrats are abusing the criminal law by bringing frivolous charges against Donald Trump, for the purpose of winning the 2024 election. But that evil should be addressed specifically; it doesn’t mean that we should do away with the criminal law.

We live in a time when people who are by nature moderate cannot avoid the fight. Our country, our economy, our Constitution, our heritage, our civilization, are all under attack by leftist radicals who wish us ill. So those of us who were not, perhaps, born to be activists have no choice: we have to pick up a rifle–metaphorically speaking–and fight on the side of freedom. Everything else is an asterisk.

UPDATE: By popular demand, the test is here.

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