Debate:Political polarization

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It seems sometimes like all the most vocal and energetic politicians and political commentators hold extreme views on one side or the other. It's extremely rare see an outspoken political moderate make headlines, and obviously they don't get elected often. We've had exactly one officially independent president and maybe 30 independent Congresspeople in all of US history. Obviously, equating "independent" and "moderate" isn't completely justified, but if these people were too far from being moderate, they would probably join one of the major parties. Considering that everyone considers partisan squabbling bad and moderate solutions good (or at least they say they do), why are there so few outspoken, energetic moderates/independents in US politics?

I'm not from the US, and I know the questioner refers to this point- but doesn't this question sort of conflate independent and moderate? And would an outspoken moderate be moderate?--Bobbing up 10:13, 15 July 2008 (EDT)
I am from the US and my feeling is that moderate now means holding views on certain subjects that are to one extreme and views on other subjects to the other extreme. I don't really believe that the 'true' moderate exists. --Edgerunner76Save me Tsisnaajini! 10:36, 15 July 2008 (EDT)
It's difficult to be passionately moderate - and only those with the passion, the drive and commitment will make the effort to rise above the background noise. Furthermore the media and it's consumers like the outspoken and outrageous - that's why Ann Coulter gets the press she does, because with every extreme statement she gets the publicity that feeds her. Having said that, even in this year, the real difference between the two presidential candidates isn't that great; it can't be or they wouldn't have a chance of being elected. As such they are both moderates (in a US sense) Silver Sloth 11:03, 15 July 2008 (EDT)
Self-identity may be the first problem -- do moderates know they are moderates? I doubt it. A second problem is definition. Are people that "go with the flow" moderates, or simply (stripping off the harshest connotations; keep it mild) ignorant and apathetic? I think yes. Third, As far as being newswothy, moderates, even loud-mouth moderates, are considered to be in the category of planes landing safely.
It's easy to peg Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians, they know their views on issues and usually are the ones who care the most about politics. Considering only the Left-Right spectrum {Libertarians think in terms of a vertical, authoritarian axis as well), it would make sense that those on the extremes would care the most. They feel they have the most to lose should those diametrically opposed to them assume positions of control; usually thru elections. Moderates have much less to lose as their views are typically not far from either end, if you define moderates as having views that fall on the midpoint (which may be a mythical beast).
Independents are seldom moderate. Their views are often as extreme as the loony Left and the rabid Right, but may hold views that most would consider inconsistent; a mixed bag, Or they may have an inordinately strong opinion on one issue, and support a candidate based on that; possibly a third-party candidate. Some feel they have more influence as an Independent.
-- RemBeau 11:39, 15 July 2008 (EDT)

I think the debate is too much black or white. There's a spectrum from liberal to conservative, and a spectrum of party loyality. There are people who have one or two views that would be considered liberal but are otherwise conservative.

The error in current American politics is that too often one is presented with a list of views are the expectation is that one will believe everything on that list. Sterilesnore! 11:57, 15 July 2008 (EDT)

One Two-party System[edit]

The US electoral system is set up so that two parties is the maximum number that are viable. Any effort by a third party to establish themselves will either make the major party they most sympathize with fail, or both major parties will join forces to crush them. --Gulik 12:18, 15 July 2008 (EDT)

A response[edit]

Wow. I didn't expect to get this many replies this soon. Yes, it is true that I'm focusing on the US; this problem doesn't exist, or exists to a lesser degree, in many other countries. I did indeed equate "independent" and "moderate" in the question, which I acknowledged there might not be accurate. It is also true that not all major-party members are extremists. I agree with Sterile that there is an entire continuum of political positions, which I have heard described as a line with "liberal" on one end and "conservative" on the other, a two-axis graph, a circle (the most extreme liberals eventually circle back to being extreme conservatives; one of the interesting ones), and even a sphere (the two-axis extension of the previous circle idea). I also agree that being asked to subscribe to a set list of positions is a problem.

I agree with Silver Sloth that the media's liking of the outrageous and and dramatic makes this problem even worse. I'm not sure I understand this point by RemBeau: "Are people that "go with the flow" moderates, or simply (stripping off the harshest connotations; keep it mild) ignorant and apathetic? I think yes." Yes to which? Although it is an interesting thought that moderates have less to lose than the extremists, regardless of which party wins, but don't the moderates pretty much always lose? If they are considered as a separate group (just for the sake of the argument; I know a separate "moderate" group would be hard to define), don't they always lose, even if they're only losing halfway? Who represents them? OneForLogic 13:49, 15 July 2008 (EDT)

Perhaps you could describe a set of views which typical "moderates" hold?--Hillary Rodham Clinton 13:54, 15 July 2008 (EDT)
I think the defining quality of a political moderate (full disclosure: I consider myself politically moderate) is acknowledgment that few, if any, issues have solutions that can be fully described by a one-line sound-byte. Is paying less taxes always good? No. Is paying more taxes always good? No. Is allowing absolutely everyone to own any weapon they want good? No. Is making all gun ownership illegal good? No. On nearly all socio-political issues, there is an ideal balance to be found: an ideal tax rate that provides exactly as much revenue as the government needs without over-burdening citizens; an ideal level of gun control that is effectively enforced. Naturally, no pair of moderates will agree on specific implementation details on every issue, but they can have a more meaningful discussion of the details once they both acknowledge that both extremes are wrong and that balance is the goal. OneForLogic 14:12, 15 July 2008 (EDT)

The hidden 3rd party.[edit]

No matter which party wins the national election, there is another party that immediately influences those elected to benefit a select group rather than those who elected the winning party. You need to realize that a multinational corporate oligarchy controls congress and the presidency via corporate campaign contributions that the Supreme Court made legal. Thus the Supreme Court rendered your election useless since this oligarchy funds both parties' campaigns simultaneously. For example:

-- We have had several Secretary of the Treasury come from former employees of the banking industry, one of whom bailed out the banking industry with government backed funding. One under Bush and another under Obama.

--Despite that bank reform has been enacted, it has been so watered down since then to be useless.

--Once the newly elected GOP-dominated congress gained power, they approved a Citibank written bill, that was hidden in an appropriations bill to avoid a government shutdown, that extended the bank industry's ability to make risky proprietary investments that kept the taxpayer on the hook for another bailout of the banks. It basically overwrote the bank reforms that had been put in place after the 2008 financial collapse.

--The problem is there are multiple sides to this oligarchy. One that feeds off Conservative related government programs and funding, the other feeds off Liberal programs and funding. But there are conglomerates with divisions that feed off both.

--And the Public-Private partnership has enabled this oligarchy to buy public assets that end up costing you more. See my Google Map of the Privatization Boondoggles of Local, State, and Federal Government.

These are businesses that intervene in government to get government to intervene in business to the advantage of the politically influential business over its competition, its customers, its employees and taxpayers. They use government to regulate others while excluding themselves. And they benefit by keeping the country polarized because this polarization increases profits by generating partisan opinion shows and conferences, stock market volatility to take advantage of volatility arbitrage. They profit from constant change.PragmaticStatistic (talk) 16:38, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Next you'll tell me there's a fourth estate. People who have political power in the abstract aren't the same as a political party. Ikanreed (talk) 17:13, 18 February 2015 (UTC)