Warning: this post may contain navel-gazing. Reader discretion is advised.
I would describe myself as a political moderate. That's not to say I don't have strong views on many things. Why else would I blog? But if I had to position myself on the political spectrum I'd end up be somewhere in the middle.
Am I a Nazi?
I've heard people I would think of as extremists say much the same thing. Often it can be difficult to accept you're way out on the fringe, that you're not "mainstream". This interesting fact made me wonder exactly where I fit. Am I really such a smug centrist. Or am I in fact a Stalinist in hiding, or a closet fascist?
Gazing at navels
On most social, moral and ethical issues I consider myself liberal. I respect the right of people to do as they please, so long as no harm is done to others. You can believe in any god you choose. If you want to believe all the answers to the universal questions reside in an old dusty book, then be my guest. Just don't tell me your faith is based on anything other than blind hope, otherwise I'll go all Richard Dawkins on you.
I believe in science and reason, rather than absolute unquestionable truths. Science is all about the accumulation of knowledge. As scientific learning grows, so does our base knowledge. Mistakes are made, and promising paths turn out to be dead ends. So we go back and look for another path. We creep forward slowly. That is why deniers of evolution and climate change make me despair. And strident anti-GE campaigners also get my goat (though they don't eat it, being vegans and all).
On economic matters and the role of the state, I'm a centrist. The free market works best, provided it is tempered with some government control. Too little and we get social dislocation, like we saw in the 80s and 90s. Too much and economic growth suffers. Muldoonism is a good example of how suffocating regulation can destroy economic growth.
But the state has a duty to provide for those who need help. Some people need more help than others. Some people don't have the life skills or education to ever make a meaningful contribution to our economy. That doesn't make them bad people.
So having established my moderate credentials, I'll now ascend my moderately-sized soapbox and offer moderate and restrained opinions.
Don't frighten the horses
Being a moderate, I want moderation in most things. When ACT tells me we can thrive economically if we just slash taxes, cut welfare and privatise public assets, my bullshit detector starts to buzz. And when some on the left compare the Government's supercity plans to a Nazi Blitzkrieg or Italian fascism my eyes roll.
Any policy enunciated by a political group has to be well communicated. Convince people that it sounds reasonable and you'll get followers. Use rhetoric, ad hominem attacks, and labels and your core supporters will love you, but the mass of voters won't.
So, speaking as a centrist, here are some communication hints to a couple of parties lurking on the edge of the spectrum:
To the Greens: don't compare the Supercity moves to a coup, or a Blitzkrieg. You may not like it, but actually a lot of people are in favour of the Supercity. Focus instead on the lack of consultation. Don't keep talking about "Them", as if we all know who the enemy is. Some quite intelligent and reasonable people are in favour of the Supercity. So engage with those people and convince them of your case.
To ACT: You're at about 3% or thereabouts in polling. So why, if your policies are supposedly such works of genius, do you suck poll-wise? Well here's a clue. Disagreeing with your policies doesn't make someone a socialist or a leftist. I'm willing to concede you're not all fascists, so when someone disagrees with your law and order policies (like, for example, the Law Society), please reciprocate with good will rather than labelling them a "Wadestown Liberal".
Great stuff, huh? And I don't even charge for this. Yet.