Principles of Moderation

Eleven Ideas That Might Define Moderation

By Dave Cieslewicz

Who am I to define an entire world view? In fact, one of my own principles of moderation is intellectual humility, an openness to new ideas. So, feel free to contact me with your own ideas about what is or isn’t a principle of moderation. The great thing about WordPress is that the edit button works just fine.

Here’s my go at:


Classical Liberal Values.

The first and most important principle of moderation is a respect for the classical liberal values of free speech, the rule of law, tolerance and reason.


Middle Class Values.

Hard work, personal responsibility, resilience, self-reliance, these are all good things. Bill Clinton said it best: We should live in a society where if you work hard and play by the rules you should be able to succeed.


Free Markets Tempered By Community Values.

The free market is the best engine to create material wealth. But it doesn’t have all the answers. It needs to be tempered with values that it might not otherwise recognize, like respect for workers and the environment.


Liberal Stability.

Stability is important. It’s hard to pursue happiness or fulfillment in a war zone. Russia, China and Cuba are all fairly stable countries, yet they’re not free and open societies. Hence the qualifier: stability but within a classical liberal environment.


Reason Wherever It Leads.

Idealogues employ facts and reason. But they cherry pick their facts and train strict reason only on the arguments of their opponents. Moderates allow facts and reason to take them wherever they lead.


Intellectual Humility.

Moderates are the opposites of idealogues. We don’t believe we have all the answers. We’re open to other views. So could that take us anywhere? Not quite. We’re still rooted in classical liberal and middle class values.


A Moderate Temperament.

There’s a reason that you don’t often hear phrases like “passionate moderation.” Moderates eschew emotional arguments and appeals to passions in favor of cool reason. A heated argument is also most likely a waste of everyone’s time.



Moderates believe that the best solution to any specific problem is usually one born of compromise. Moderates are suspicious of absolutes, bottom lines and ultimatums.


The Loyal Opposition.

When in power we should be generous to the minority view and when in the minority ourselves we should be loyal to the broader principles. Whether in power or out of it, we should act as if the roles will be reversed tomorrow.


Earned Respect for Authority.

Authority should be respected, but only when it is earned. Parents, teachers, bosses and public officials occupy positions of authority and the position itself should be respected. But how individuals act within those roles dictates how much respect they deserve.



This is just like “Spinal Tap”. We’ve got eleven. People aren’t wrong just because they don’t belong to my tribe and they’re not right just because they do.

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