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Stuck in the Middle with You

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

If you remember that 1973 song, and identify with its chorus, you might be a Moderate Baby Boomer – and you might decide this election.

Moderates often feel “stuck in the middle”, with both political parties appeasing their bases on the left and right – while ignoring the rest of us.

To help Moderates decide which presidential candidate best represents them, The Modern Moderate introduced our Moderate Leadership Test recently (July 23 and July 30).

MLT evaluates candidates’ Basic Beliefs that Moderates uphold (outlined in TMM’s November 2 and November 3, 2018 posts). Last week’s post scored President Trump and former VP Biden on our first one; today’s will score the second. We’ve based our scores on facts, not opinions, after researching Trump’s and Biden’s records.

We encourage readers to display YOUR scores in Comments after posts.

TMM’s second Moderate Basic Belief, followed by MLT’s criteria:

  • Solutions to political challenges… will be found in the MIDDLE, not the extremes of Left or Right…

MLT: Have candidates sought solutions in the political middle, not in the extremes? Compromised with the opposing party in forging agreements…?


Biden’s reputation, after decades in the Senate and eight years as VP, is a compromising dealmaker. The New York Times states he “firmly believes in the value of bipartisanship and insists on extending overtures to Republicans, even… when many in his own party don’t see negotiating partners on the other side.”

As President Obama’s VP, Biden helped confront financial disaster, the Great Recession. First challenge: passing a stimulus bill to revive the devastated economy. When Republicans resisted, Obama tasked Biden with persuading enough GOP senators to support it. Despite bitter partisanship, Biden succeeded, the bill passed – ending the recession within months. Politico summarized: “Thanks to Biden’s negotiating skills, the Recovery Act stopped a depression, tens of millions of Americans got health care for the first time, and the richest Americans again started to pay their fair share,”

After 2010’s Republican Congressional landslide, former President Bush’s tax cuts were expiring. Highly partisan Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) threatened to shut down the Senate unless they were extended. Obama wanted them for middle- and working-classes, but not for the wealthy. Biden and McConnell compromised, saving the economy and reopening the Senate.

Biden said change takes compromise, which “is not a dirty word”, adding “It’s how our government was designed to work. I’ve done it my whole life. No one’s ever doubted my word…”

His record agrees.

Score:  A


Trump has held rather extreme positions, rather than mainstream, Moderate stances. Examples:

  1. Race

Trump’s political career began backing “birther” claims that Obama, our first black president, wasn’t born in America. In 2016, he finally admitted Obama was – but falsely blamed Hillary Clinton for birther assertions.

Political Science Quarterly described Trump’s “explicitly racist appeals to whites” during his 2016 campaign: “The Trump campaign was remarkable for bringing fringe ideas, beliefs, and organizations into the mainstream.”

The alt-right movement enthusiastically supported Trump’s candidacy, since he opposed multiculturism and immigration – some celebrating his victory with Nazi salutes.

Studies found racist attitudes contributed to Trump’s triumph – and were more important than economic factors.

When white supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017, violence erupted and a counter-protester died. Trump insisted “there were very good people on both sides”, implying moral equivalence between them.

  1. Environment

Trump denies scientific consensus that climate change is real, largely caused by humans. His 2017 U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate left America the only nation not ratifying it. He overturned established federal regulations protecting wildlife and controlling greenhouse gas emissions, air and water pollution, and toxic substances.

  1. Willingness to Compromise

Politico said “Trump hasn’t even pretended to care about bipartisanship, trashing Democrats as radical traitors, filling the courts with right-wing judges and ramming through a sweeping and controversial $2 trillion tax cut with only 50 Republican votes.”

During recent Congressional negotiations over U.S. pandemic relief (desperately needed by millions after financial benefits expired), “dealmaker” Trump didn’t participate – staying at his private golf club instead.

While he claims to be “the least racist person there is”, an environmentalist, and a dealmaker, Trump’s record disagrees.

The taunting (“Lock her up”) and name-calling (“Sleepy Joe” and “Phony Kamala”, already) don’t help. Trump had better watch out, though; if Biden doesn’t punch back, Harris, a former prosecutor, WILL.

Score:  D

Moderates, if you want a president who will stick with us in the MIDDLE (not with the clowns to the left or jokers to the right), while compromising with them to find workable solutions – VOTE accordingly.





Images: Google Images

Stealers Wheel album cover: Wikipedia

Biden and Obama: New York Times

Biden and McConnell: AFP via Getty Images

Trump with Confederate flag: People’s World

Trump with coal sign:



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