The old adage “everything in moderation” was one many of us grew up with. Moderation in life, from drinking and eating to working to exercise, was considered a sign of prudence, maturity, and good judgment.
But moderation in our political climate has become a dirty word, a slur, an accusation of being unprincipled, lacking ideology.
I am a proud Republican, a Reagan admirer and fiscal conservative. I am also considered a RINO (Republican in name only) by my more conservative brethren. This, apparently, is the worst kind of Republican. It is an insult hurled at the least extreme among us for our views of tolerance and common sense.
The Republican Party is guided by three principles that are not negotiable: limited government, free enterprise and fiscal common sense.
So why can’t you be a conservative and support the right of people to marry who they like, make their own decisions on abortion, and support common sense gun control? (Do hunters need AK 47s ? Are background checks trampling on the Constitution?)
Yet, those positions have made me a pariah in my own party. A RINO indeed!
Those who identify as liberal are even less tolerant of any deviation from the most extreme progressive ideals.
Don’t support partial birth abortion, bans on guns, unlimited entitlements or punishingly high taxes? The movement has no place for you, thank you.
Enter Donald Trump. Trump could not have gained legitimacy in any other political climate. At a time when extremists on both sides clog the airwaves and the Twittersphere, Trump emerges as a candidate who lacks any principals, ideology or coherent strategy for “making America great again.” His platform consists of pandering and exploiting the anger, fear and frustration many Americans feel. His reach is far and wide, across geography, demographics, education levels and political affiliation.
But the one thing Donald Trump is not is moderate. His language is hyperbole and his topic is himself – when he’s not tapping in to his supporters’ fear, anger and wish for some sense of control over their own lives.
I believe Donald Trump is as dangerous as the most extreme candidate on either side, because there are no guiding principals behind his policies. He is reckless with language, a demagogue, and actually less qualified for the job of president than was Obama.
The rise of a candidate like Donald Trump – whose campaign is not one of ideas, values or principals, but a campaign of emotion, anger and fear – has been enabled by the voices of extremism in both parties.
In this crazy and unpredictable election cycle, I will proudly maintain my middle-of-the-road, moderate positions.
I will continue to search for the candidate with conservative fiscal principles, a tolerant view on social issues and reasoned take on national security, without trampling on our Constitution – a candidate with a pragmatic ideology, strong leadership and a person I can be proud of and trust to govern this great country with prudence, character and grace.
And just as soon as I find that person I will let you know.
Sheila Brown is a resident of Bluffton.