Monthly Archives: September 2014

An Introduction to the Psychology of Political Moderation–Part I: What is It?

ModCon is pleased to announce new contributor Anthony C!  Anthony is a student and innovator at the University of Florida.

From the onset of the American political system, there has been a discrepancy of political views between different masses of people. Traditionally, the United States has existed as a bipartisan political system predominated by conservatives and liberals. However, when a closer look is taken at the individual citizen, it is soon clear that this clear-cut distinction is not so apparent. From a young age, children are indoctrinated (most generally) with their parents’ political beliefs. Political identity can be considered a form of genial passing; generally parents pass their most basic and heart-felt beliefs to their children. Yet parents nowadays are not so much passing on their beliefs, but rather their political identity. Although in the past political identity correlated highly with belief structures, it is more so a medium for arbitrary political expression rather than individualistic expression. For most Americans, their average political beliefs lie in a continuum of moderation. Although they identify with a particular party, they do not actually hold the extremist views of that party fully. Rather they embrace the moderate agenda set about by that particular political party, and then claim their viewpoints to be synonymous with the more extreme members. Simply put, Americans tend to exacerbate and lengthen their political identities in order to conform to a more established standard. It is easier to conform to a set-standard rather than to create an entirely new identity. Unfortunately, society can frown upon those who dare to be different.

In truth both moderate liberals and conservatives share many of the same basic beliefs. To prove this briefly, take a look at political infomercials; they generally present a relatively moderate viewpoint to the American public during election times rather than imposing the extreme views of their party to the public. Why would the political system do this? It is because campaign planners and politicians know that their votes will be won by moderate viewpoints retaining neutral characteristics as to cast a larger net of voters, so to speak.

Case in point, moderate conservatives and liberals have a lot more in common than they might think. The main difference between their viewpoints is not a significant difference between their political, fiscal, and social policies. Rather it’s simply their definition of their political party. If moderate conservatives and liberals realized this, then there would be a higher preponderance of success for the moderate party. Rarely do people prefer the extreme. Therefore, it is imperative to explore and ask the question, why do we cling to our political parties despite not fully embracing the ideologies?

Do GOP Presidential Hopefuls Lack Enough Foreign Policy Experience?

Today in the NY Times, the international experience of the likely GOP 2016 presidential candidates was discussed with skepticism for their preparedness.

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio are all either state governors, or relatively inexperienced senators, like Pres. Obama was when he won the office in 2008.

While voters are typically more interested in domestic economic issues, in our interconnected contemporary world a lack of foreign policy knowledge is concerning.  However, by surrounding oneself with the right people, a candidate may overcome this challenge.  The lack of any candidate experienced in foreign diplomacy may mean that the GOP has no choice but to downplay and delegate the requirement for direct and prior experience for a president.

Of course, one of the strongest candidates of either party is former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but she may choose to distance herself from the Obama administration given its waning popularity.

No matter what, candidates’ messages about current international crises, or a lack thereof, will be interesting to watch for in the coming months.