Over at DWC, Troy Jones and SDJammer engaged in brief civil colloquy over whether one can have moderate principles.
In South Dakota, I'm apparently a liberal. In Europe, I'd probably be a reactionary. That irony allows me to think I can offer a few principles that might fit.
1. Extremism is a vice. That fact holds true for both Michele Bachman and Shelia Jackson Lee.
2. Intellectual underpinnings matter. Prefer Hayek to Hannity or Stiglitz to Schultz. (That's Sean Hannity of Fox and Ed Schultz of MSNBC for those of you who were wondering.)
3. Read the whole book. The Wealth of Nations praises capitalism. It also condemns joint stock companies, the corporations of Adam Smith's day. Both the praise and the warning should be given equal prominence if one uses Smith to justify or create policy.
4. People haven't changed. The same sort of people who became robber barons and abused their workers in late 19th and early 20th century still climb the corporate ladder. The same sort of folks who wanted to control the unions in order to line their pockets try to climb the union hierarchy. The laws necessary to stop both types of exploitation are still necessary.
5. People need to chill. There's no reason to spend the money to put the 10 Commandments in every classroom. Likewise, if the county spent $2,000 for a fancy creche in 1946, no one is harmed if county officials put it up on the corner of the courthouse square.
6. The nation can have a strong defense but does not have to be the world's policeman. Further, the US should not engage in national building.
7. When in doubt prefer competence and qualifications to catchy slogans. In short, a Jon Huntsman is always a better choice than Herman Cain.
8. Avoid the jerks. Further, the jerk who says things that one agrees with is still a jerk. There's no difference between Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and Bill Maher. Bombast and smarminess are unseemly from both sides of the spectrum.
9. Both parties have valid ideas; neither has a monopoly on the truth, the spokespeople for both parties notwithstanding.
10 All 10 Amendments in the Bill of Rights matter. Conservatives love 2 and 10. Liberals love 9. That doesn't mean the rest aren't important.