April 21, 2018
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Moderates get it from both sides

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

This week a friend of mine looked across the table and told our dinner companions that I was the most liberal person she had met in her entire life.

I was stunned.

First, because I realized that after more than 30 years of friendship she had no real indication of who I am or my belief system, and secondly, that she was so clearly disgusted by this belief of hers.

Ironically, on this evening my more politically conservative friends were seated on my left and my more liberal-leaning mates were on my right.

The wisest among us took the pause that followed my friend’s comment as an opportunity to change the subject and the evening spun on with great conversation and frivolity.

Before we parted we took some pictures, and my friend, like always when we part, threw her arms around my neck and said, “I love you, Nay.”

And she does. I know that.

But still she’s wrong. Trust me, all of my true and very dedicated liberal friends would tell her so, and I have many, but they know I am not truly one of them.

Some of my true and very dedicated conservative friends might agree with her that I am a liberal, but I think most would shy away from calling me the most liberal person they’ve ever met. I also have many of them, and they, too, know I am not one of them.

I have, I admit, taken a fair number of shots at Gov. Paul LePage, but most often because of his oafish way of speaking to people and his inability to recognize the line that separates political disagreement and good governance from silly, testosterone-fueled threats.

I think that’s reasonable.

I also have commended him for much of his work on welfare reform and domestic violence legislation.

I have written much in favor of the need for the state to take better control of the welfare system and its multitude of abuses by those who benefit from it. I was the first to expose the act of “water dumping.”

I believe there is a valuable role that welfare can play in our society for limited and short periods of time when people fall on hard times, but it needs to be truly limited and governed responsibly.

I think that’s reasonable.

I also have publicly aired my disagreement with the National Rifle Association, primarily because I have the audacity to believe in sensible gun legislation. That is, I see no reason that the average Joe needs to have the absolute right to arm himself with AK-47 assault rifles, and see it as senseless to have background checks mandated at licensed gun shops but not at gun shows or anywhere else.

I believe that all law-abiding citizens have the right to own guns for recreation, sport and personal safety.

I think that’s reasonable.

I think I’m moderate.

And being a moderate is sort of like being a child stuck between two very dedicated but markedly different parents battling over custody. Anything you do that may please one most certainly angers the other.

Moderates are a quiet group. There is no real leadership. We generally don’t hold marches, go door to door with petitions or run political ads slaying the other side.

We generally don’t make outrageous allegations or threats that make for bold headlines, so no one really talks about us much.

And many of us are accused of being liberal or conservative in accusatory tones even by our friends who have their heels dug in on one far edge of the political spectrum or the other.

And in today’s climate of extreme political discourse with a presidential election looming, the place for us seems to be narrowing even more.

I’m not sure if we are an actual group or not. If so, we’re certainly not organized or very effective.

And just like at dinner the other night, we find it simpler, more comfortable and agreeable to take the accusations that come our way and simply change the subject.

Renee Ordway can be reached at reneeordway@gmail.com.

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