A friend asked me to contribute to a candidate for the House's campaign and said "He is not an ideologue." I said "Too bad...is there anything good you can say about him?" Who ever got the idea that compromising or abandoning one's values, or worse, not having any values to begin with, is a virtue. Arlen Spector is not an ideologue, and neither is John McCain. What they are is chameleons. Their ship flies no flag, but they are not ideologues.
This idea reminds me of those who take it as a priori that moderation is a virtue. Many years ago Barry Goldwater (One of the founders of the modern conservative movement) said "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
Goldwater was an absolute ideologue, and one with all the right ideas. Would you trust your possessions, or more importantly your freedom, to an ideologue like him, or McCain and Spector?
McCain and Spector claim to be moderates. Antony Scalia, one of the most thoughtful jurists ever to sit on the bench of the Supreme Court, answered a question posed to him about moderation in interpreting the law. He asked the questioner, "What exactly is moderation...halfway between what the law says and what you wish it would say?"
Of course there are things where moderation is appropriate. They are mostly where the effect of a policy are uncertain but worth trying. But there are others where "extremism" is clearly called for. Perhaps the devotees of moderation would like Lincoln to have freed half the slaves, or maybe he could have freed them from 12:00 until 5:00?
No..moderation is no virtue. I would prefer to let all the ideologues, right and left, fight it out. Let the differences be clearly understood...and the better ideas will survive. If people understand liberalism and its history, its boot heel might be removed from our country's neck and the proverbial stake will be driven through its heart.
For those of you who don't know much about Goldwater, he and Reagan are credited with founding modern conservatism. He was the Senator from Arizona and the Republican Presidential nominee in the 1964 election. Like Reagan and all influential Republicans he was labeled stupid, evil and extreme. Of course the Left never addressed his policies or philosophy. He moved to the right of the "Country Club Republicans," or the "Rockefeller Republicans," and their low tax anti communist platform. He extended this to include smaller government, individual responsibility, and constitutional mandates. In doing so the party developed a politically viable coalition by bringing rural Americans and evangelical Christians along with all people of faith into the Republican tent.
To get a sense of who he was, here is one more of his quotes. "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents "interests," I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." pg 15. The Conscience of A Conservative (1960)