Moderate Is Still a Position | Not Voting Is Still a Choice

Before moving to America, I had zero interest in politics. In Jamaica, we can afford this privilege. In the grand scheme of things, our politicians are remarkably similar. As a people, we all share the same general goal and vision for Jamaica. Our only real reason for disagreement is based on our opinions of who can get us there faster or with less collateral damage.

America is nothing like that. Liberals and Conservatives have remarkably different ideas of what America should look like for today and the future. On the one hand, there are progressives trying to push forward into the America of Tomorrow. And then, there are the ones trying to bring America back to an archaic sense of when it was “Great.”

I often wonder if these people recognize that the greatness they’re referring to is fueled by fewer rights for everyone else but them. Of course, America was greater for White People when Black people couldn’t vote or attend the same schools they did. Of course, it was great for them before a Black man could have the audacity and opportunity to become President.

The Non-Voters in America

Before I get on my soapbox about racism and how and why it thrives in American conservative ideology, let me get back on track. I started this article off by being very clear that I never cared for politics before migrating to America and I explained why. So, please do excuse my hypocrisy while I make less than favorable remarks about people who do not vote in America.

Georgian Inspiration

Let’s consider the implications by taking a look at Joshua Tree, CA. I have explained in several prior articles that I left Georgia because I felt cornered as a Black person in the Southeast. The KKK is still active in Georgia and even adopted a highway, despite Nathan Deal’s best efforts to stop it. Now, when you drive into Georgia, you are welcomed by the KKK, so you know precisely whose country you’re in.

Californian Observation

Not surprisingly, when I started looking for somewhere new, I wanted nothing to do with any red state or red town. For that reason, I immediately crossed Joshua Tree off my list. I instead considered 29 Palms, which was considered moderately left-leaning. However, when I arrived in California, guess which place was actually more left-leaning? Why, Joshua Tree, of course!

How did this happen? Statistics can only count the people who vote and who are registered to vote. They cannot account for the people who choose to go unheard. So, in an incredibly hipster, cutesy, Instagram-worthy, influencer-haven town strewn with hippies and L.A. transplants, Conservatives held the vote.

No Choice Is a Choice

These people were essentially volunteering to live under Conservative rule while protesting it. Even more hilariously, this was happening to them in the most left-leaning state in all of America. Throughout my travels, this has been the most poignant example I have seen of what happens when people choose not to vote.

The Rise of the Middle Ground

As divisions have widened between Liberal and Conservative politics, a new growth has emerged. They call themselves the Moderates, but whenever Liberals hear this description, we chuckle a little. I often wonder if Conservatives do too. That’s because Moderates overwhelmingly have incredibly conservative ideas and value systems. They just don’t want to be associated with Trump.

The same is true of most Libertarians. I mean, isn’t it funny how the political group that does not support federal involvement actually went to the Capitol to participate in federal manipulation by a previous Administration?

Right of Center

I first encountered Moderates in Wyoming. At the time, I really did think that these were people firmly set in the middle ground. I thought they would have remarkably reasonable opinions somewhere in-between. But, the more I listened to them, was the more I developed that little chuckle every Liberal has when the conversation of “Moderates” comes up.

Left of Center

I will say I have met one Moderate who was actually pretty far left. At first, I couldn’t understand why he described himself as Moderate at all. We agreed on just about everything when it came to politics, socio-economic policies, and race. But, then I thought about it. He was a left-leaning man in a rural, Conservative Colorado farm town. Maybe it was easier to hide behind the banner of the alleged middle ground.

The Arrogance of the Middle

While I quickly caught on to the right of the middle, I didn’t catch on to the arrogance until my parents visited me in Mexico. There were not that many TV programs in English except for a moderate U.S. “news” station. So, every so often, Mom would choose that to get a break from reading subtitles.

I had never had any discussion with my mother about the right of the middle, but as soon as the guy started talking, she looked up. “Why does he sound like a Trump supporter?” she said. “Didn’t he say he was moderate?”

As if by some stroke of irony, after railing on Biden and defending Trump, the guy then informed the viewers that this is why they should watch his segment. Because he had a balanced and objective view of politics as a Moderate. The look on my mother’s face was somewhere between not knowing whether she should laugh or be horrified.

I thought this was just a one-off shot, but since then, I have encountered several other self-identifying Moderates who spoke similarly. They would say the most bizarre things and then follow up with the reminder that they are the objective ones, so I should listen to them.

“I’m not from America,” I reminded one recently. “I came. I traveled. I saw. I chose. So, if you want an objective opinion, maybe you should be asking me.”

Final Un-Moderate Thoughts

As a follow-up to this, one day, I would like to write a post on why racism and racial ignorance thrive in Conservative areas. Personally, I think this is an issue Conservatives who do not consider themselves racist should answer. However, most of them are more concerned with convincing you they are not racist than they are with actually resolving racism in the circles they themselves occupy.

As someone who has traveled to 35 U.S. states, I can tell you that as a Black person I know immediately when I cross a red vs blue border. I bought land in a tiny town with less than 200 people in New Mexico, a reliably Democrat state. Meanwhile, I couldn’t even enter a town with 55,000 people in Arizona without running into the Confederacy and blatant hostility.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Arizona and Georgia are blue, now! No, they are not. Democrats won by a very slim margin in these states and, ironically, they both have Trump to thank. Statistics show that he spent so much time disparaging the mail-in-ballot system that a lot of people who confirmed him in the Republican primary (via mail-in-ballot, no less!) chose not to vote in the final elections because he had inspired their doubts in the election system.

In fact, the Secretary of Elections in Georgia went on record to state that had Trump just shut the hell up, he would have won Georgia by 10,000 votes. I do not doubt for a second that something similar is true of Arizona.

I guess, in some ways, it’s a little funny, isn’t it? Georgia and Arizona became the flip side of Joshua Tree on a statewide level.

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31 thoughts on “Moderate Is Still a Position | Not Voting Is Still a Choice

  1. Names for concepts are weird. “Liberal” literally comes from a word meaning freedom yet the US right see liberals in a very different light. In the UK the Liberal Democrats are the centre ground. In other countries Liberal parties are more right wing. A liberal, a socialist and a communist are VERY different things. I guess politics in the US is so polarised there isn’t much room for nuance. And as far as the rest of the world is concerned the US has 2 right wing parties. The Democrats aren’t in any way a socialist party – they just want ordinary people’s lives to be a little bit less shit. “Moderates” seems to me to be similar (psychologically speaking) to people in the UK who describe themselves as conservative (with a small C, rather than supporters of the Conservative Party) – i.e. they don’t like much change, either progressive or regressive. Finally, you might be aware that the UK Conservative Party is often called the Tory Party. This was a slur that got adopted & owned – here’s some info from Wikipedia: The Irish word toruighe is suggested as the origin for the term Tory, with toruighe being used in the 16th century to describe “an outlaw papist” or a “robber that is noted for outrages and cruelty”. However, because later Conservative and anti-revolutionary parties assumed the term Tory, it has also been suggested that the word originated from the Irish word toir, meaning to give, grant and bestow; or toirbhearl, meaning efficiency, bounty or munificence.
    Which just goes to show that you can give something a name and people will still misunderstand what it is you’re referring to.

    1. I do agree that politics and the words used to describe them in America are often singular to America.

      In Jamaica, for instance, we have two socialist democratic parties. When we argue about who’s liberal and who’s conservative, it’s not based on party values. It’s based on spending. The more progressive party spends less and is therefore conservative to us and liberal by U.S. standards. Meanwhile, our more conservative value party spends more and is therefore considered a liberal spender.

      However, that’s not really what I was getting at in the article. It doesn’t really matter what we call the left or the right. The point is that, in America, the people who claim to be in the middle are not actually centrists or moderate. They’re usually just trying to escape a label or association with a political figure they dislike.

  2. I believe that no one can truly be a “Moderate”– at least, not perfectly so. There’s also the similar “Centrist” ideology that some people subscribe to, which I also believe is a label claimed either by conservatives who are ashamed of the “conservative” label, or for those who really are apolitical (and smug about it). Besides the impossibility of the “Moderate” belief existing in society, it also is dangerous to the progression of change and betterment for the nation, as it implies complacency and stagnation for the sake of neutrality. That’s why I have a problem with Biden (even though I voted for him in the 2020 elections): he’s a self-described “Moderate Democrat,” and in the one year he’s been President, he has done practically nothing for the nation. Or at least, not the change we hoped to see since Trump, or even since the pandemic. The Moderate ideology does absolutely nothing to progress humanity, and while I’m not saying we need to have extreme, anarchic ideas as a solution, we need to have a bit more radicalization to even get something done!

    1. I do wonder why more moderates and conservatives don’t like Biden, considering he is a moderate democrat. I’m glad you’ve brought that up.

      I don’t believe moderates are dangerous to progression though. I do believe that if they were as balanced and objective as they claimed to be, they could offer some valuable insight. But, I have met no true moderate, perhaps for the reasons you provided.

      I won’t say Biden hasn’t done anything though. His very first day in office he started to undo Trump’s work, such as getting America back on track with climate change. I do agree that he’s not the radical change we wanted. But I also think we knew we wouldn’t get that when we voted for him. Democrats didn’t choose Biden because of Biden. They chose Biden because of Trump. He was the best candidate poised to win against the opponent we faced. Otherwise, our choices might have been different. I much preferred Elizabeth Warren, myself.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  3. As you know here in California, we may be known as a blue state, but many of the counties in California are really red counties. From what I have seen from what keeps California a blue state is that those who vote blue are largely from the cities. And the larger cities have a population more than what the rule areas are that vote blue versus red. The county where the city of Joshua tree is located is considered a red voting county. Our two prominent political parties have evolved drastically over the years and have even flip flopped of how they were even 100 years ago. Everyday that I leave my house I have to drive by homes flying the Trump flag. Above that flag is the American flag. Even a few places fly the Confederate flag from a flagpole right next to a flagpole flying an American flag. Everyday I’m reminded that California has a mask mandate when I enter a building saying that facial masks are required for entry. Yet every day I’m reminded just how many people ignore that mandate and know they are not going to be challenged for not wearing a mask. Even local police departments have said they will not enforce such mandates. But I am encouraged just by how many people are wearing masks and abiding by the mandates. This area that I live is a strong red area and I have seen people get out of cars with Trump bumper stickers, and as they are walking into a store they put on their mask. I don’t like using political labels to describe myself. I don’t feel like fit a typical description of either of the two prominent parties here in America. I know we have met and I know we have spoken in person and I know you have, most likely, have an idea of which way I may lean. A big issue I see in America is that we have two main political parties yet we have many lesser political parties that people belong to. It’s unfortunate those lesser political parties, or should I say the people in those lesser political parties, are unable to get their voices heard. Is it possible that those people to get their voices heard attach themselves to the two main political parties? As the person above stated in there comment, ” we can’t move forward if we remain this divided.” And as far as I know we have not been this divided as Americans most likely since the time of our civil war. ****** This is just another wonderful write. Well done!!

    1. I agree. I live in a space where 3 counties meet. I do my best to not visit one at all because even though CA says everone should mask up, most don’t in those counties. I prefer safety to stupidity.

      1. Why do I suspect that one you don’t visit is Riverside? 😂 When I’m in Southern Cali, that’s the county all the liberals roll their eyes at!

      2. It seems almost every day that I’m rolling my eyes about what’s happening here in Riverside county. But also the things that happen in Orange county which is right next door. Lately on some street corners Trump stands selling Trump propaganda and Trump/Republican fashions have been popping up again here in Riverside county. Or at least in the area of Riverside county that I’ve been living.

      3. I was very surprised to see that a Trump store had opened up in 29 Palms too. You don’t really see a lot of Trumpers out there, but they’re around that area too. Mostly just old folks with nothing to do.

      4. Also confirming that I’ve never heard a single good thing about Orange County! 😂

    2. America has certainly been divided by the Civil War. How politics has advanced since then revolves entirely around race. Black people know this, which is why we are reliably Democrat, even though Black culture has very conservative roots from Christianity, such as homophobia.

      Lincoln essentially created the Republican party. Back then, Republicans were liberal and the Southern Confederates were the Democrats. Since then, the party names have changed, but liberals are still liberal and conservatives are still conservative.

      The switch occured in two stages. The first was Jackson. When he started providing civil rights, the conservatives weren’t happy about it but the liberals were. So, some liberals started voting Democrat and some conservatives started voting Republican.

      Then, along came idiot Nixon and his Southern Strategy. He wanted to appeal to young White male voters in the South, so he decided to be as racist as possible. Naturally, it worked. This was the final nail in the coffin. Liberals said hell no and voted Democrat and conservatives said hell yes and voted Republican. This was what caused the party switch, and as you can see, it’s always been about race.

      Because of that, I will stay on the left. I certainly don’t agree with everything Biden does or Obama did. But, Liberals do not infringe on my basic civil rights. I know what it’s like to have fewer civil rights than those around me. Trump was chipping away at mine the second I arrived, especially as an immigrant. That, I will never forget.

      It sucks that so many people in your area seem to embrace Trump’s love of fear, hatred and toddler defiance. However, America has survived division far worse than this. We haven’t exactly gotten to Civil War II just yet and the hostility comes primarily from one side. If they want peace, they need to calm down, read a book and stop storming Capitols.

      As for the independents, Bernie is a perfect example. He attached to the Democrats to get elected, but he is too far left for most Democrats. I do think America needs to do away with the two-party system, but I also don’t think those parties would win anyway. We have them in Jamaica and they never do. People prefer the “evil” they know!

  4. Look, I’m a Lib, but where I differ from the more extreme progressives is that I see the need for education, to bring people out of the wilderness of denial and misinformation. We can’t move forward if we remain this divided, and the tendency for progressives to adopt buzzwords that are easily and intentionally misinterpreted by the extreme right doesn’t help.
    For that reason, in conversation with the uninitiated, I will sometimes characterize myself as a moderate. We can’t make progress if people hear a word and turn off their ears.

    1. I agree that the left often chooses phrases that drive the red mad, but their ignorance shouldn’t be my responsibility to coddle. As you said, education is key. But, I have no desire to coddle anyone into learning anything. They either want to or they don’t.

      I am a PROUD liberal everywhere I go. Even when Confederate flags are outside or I’m the one Black person being stared down by rednecks, I’m a Liberal and I’m not afraid to say it.

      I find that idiocy runs rampant in Conservative circles, but I can also tell you that a lot of them are curious about ME. Not because I’m a Liberal, but because I’m a BLACK Liberal woman traveling solo in Conservative spaces and embracing hobbies they share, such as off-roading, trucks, RVing, camping. I also obviously do not fear them. I walk into those spaces like I own the place. I’m Jamaican, so the biases African Americans have had to internalize here, I haven’t. I see it, I experience it, but it doesn’t change the way I walk through life as a woman born and raised in a Black-majority country. That lack of fear gets their attention real fast.

      Consequently, they often WANT to discuss politics and social issues with me. Even more surprisingly, many of them listen. They also listen when I explain why the left often chooses buzzwords that kick them in the teeth. I certainly don’t change their minds when the conversation is done, but they have a different understanding.

      I remember getting into one of these conversations about Black Lives Matter with a farmer in Wyoming. I was very clear about where I stood and why African Americans were protesting. He didn’t know the things I was telling him. When I was done, he looked profoundly disturbed but enlightened. He looked at me and said, “That’s a darn shame. I would protest too if I was treated like a second-class citizen in my own country. Thank you for explaining that to me. I want you to know your life does matter.”

      Be bold. They’re not all crybabies and the crybabies don’t need to be saved.

      1. I like your approach, but I WANT to change minds. I’m a researcher and an old white guy. People don’t want to listen until they want to. So I have to build a comfort and trust level before I can persuade. I mix humor and facts to get my points across.
        Some of my clients are older, and regardless of race, they get treated by others as second rate. Age discrimination exists in the business world. But do you know what its like to buy cat food in a grocery and get quizzed every time on whether you have a pet or are eating that yourself? Hell, I’ve had that happen to me and my wife.
        Another person I’ve met through work is a vet in his mid 60s. His wife passed, his kids are addicts or in jail and he’s become parent and guardian for 5 minor children. A military pension won’t stretch that far. That’s where the anger comes from that fuels the right.
        They have a right to be angry, but they are placing blame on the wrong people. That’s the education challenge.

      2. I’ve been trying to find your comment for days, haha! Because I didn’t respond when I first opened it, WordPress buried it with the other notifications!

        I can see why you take a different approach. If that’s working, go for it. We have different goals, so we have to take different paths. Your goal is to convince or persuade. Mine is to expose them to something other than their carefully curated bubbles.

        I do agree that they have a right to be angry, but certainly not more of a right than the people they and their policies have helped keep in literal or figurative chains.

  5. I agree that “Moderates” are just tRumpers hiding behind a new label. You have been to far more states than I have, and I respect your experiences. I cringe when I see confederate flags. Here in southern CA, county by county political differences are very apparent.

    1. I spent 5 months in Southern California last year and LOVED it. You are right that county by county, there are political differences. But, when it came down to it, all Southern California counties voted to keep Newsom. I will also say that I have never had a bad experience in California, as far as race. I have seen one Confederate Flag there and it was flown by an RVer, so who’s to say where he was from? Probably another “Moderate”!! 😂😂

      1. My daughter’s county an hour from me, sadly still has tRump rallies. It is depressing. My grandchildren are biracial and have had some awful experiences there. I hoped they would have had a better experience.

      2. Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry to hear your grandchildren have experienced problems. Like I said to Buddy earlier, there is a very good reason Black people (and other people of colour) are reliably Democrat. Race has driven U.S. politics since the Civil war and it never stopped. The left has its own fair share of problems, but I never have to worry about losing my civil rights or running into confederate flags around them.

  6. Whether it is America striving to be GREAT again, or Britain trying to regain GREAT Britain, both would be much better served if they tried to be good, equal, honest, caring, supportive, and fair!

    1. I agree wholeheartedly with this, Peter! I said this to someone in Nevada recently when he said it was better for America to be feared. I asked him what century he was living it that he felt fear was the better approach than diplomacy.

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