Kevin Drum has been taken to task for admitting his views put him “in the leftward 20% of the country.” His analysis of this is quite interesting, especially his differentiation between the “types” of moderation.
I would agree with Kevin that his views are likely in the leftward quintile of the American population, and would think my views fall somewhere in the right quintile. Indeed, the mere fact that we spend a lot of time thinking, let alone writing, about politics and have developed somewhat coherent positions almost by definition puts us into the extremes.
The key thing is that Kevin does engage in “rhetorical moderation,” which means that people who disagree with him can find him worth reading. There’s not much point in my reading most of the leftish blogs out there because I just find them insulting. (Indeed, there are some popular rightish blogs I avoid because there rhetorical excess clouds their argument.) I often wonder what these people think they’re accomplishing. Routine use of labels like wingnuts, fascist, Nazi, communist, pinko, homophobe, racist, unamerican, and many others is interesting as red meat but is rather unlikely to persuade anyone who doesn’t already agree with your position. The occasional quip or over-the-top analogy can flavor the discussion, but constant ad hominem attacks are going to put off most readers.
I would also note that “moderate” is very much a moving target, anyway. The idea that blacks should be treated exactly like whites, for example, made one a radical in the 1850s, a liberal in the 1960s, a moderate in the 1970s, and a conservative in the 1990s. Right now, being pro gay marriage is liberal, tolerance of homosexual sodomy is moderate, and thinking homosexuality a sinful “lifestyle choice” is conservative. In twenty years, I suspect the labels will be much changed.
Update: Chris Lawrence has some thoughts on this as well.
Update (22:08) A commenter notes that there are actually all manner of conservatives. This is true in the popular sense of the word but less true in the traditional sense. See this old post for more discussion of that problem.