'Moderate' Tag Poses Dilemma for Democrats

It generally means 'conservative,' making everyone else a 'liberal'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2009 11:39 AM CDT
Harry Reid hailed Arlen Specter as a "moderate voice" for the Democratic party.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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(Newser) – The label “moderate Democrat” has been thrown around a lot lately, but it’s usually affixed to the party’s most conservative members, Politico reports. That’s a linguistic dilemma for the rest of the party, since anyone left-of-center is suddenly a “liberal” by comparison—a term still recovering from Ronald Reagan’s scorn. “Voters need shorthand,” says one Democratic strategist, but “Democrats who use the ‘moderate’ label just position the party as something it’s not.”

“What you don’t want to do is to give the Republicans the fodder to say, ‘Yeah, we’ve got these moderate Democrats with us—and then we’ve got these leftists and socialists like Obama,” says one political psychology expert. “This would be a great time for Evan Bayh to say, ‘I’m a conservative Democrat.’” Though the term wouldn’t play well in every district, it would solve the “moderate” problem and broaden the party’s appeal.