For some reason, the “moderate” label and all the words that accompany it (e.g., “compromise,” gray area,” “concessions” and “middle ground”) are pooh-poohed by a large percentage of today’s political leaders, and perhaps some followers as well. Herman Cain, one of many Republicans seeking the White House, said that compromise is “why nothing ever gets done,” and that it’s a word of which “people are sick and tired.”

Jon Hunstman Jr., Utah’s former governor and another one of many Republican presidential hopefuls, appeared Tuesday night on The Colbert Report and explained his position as a moderate. When Stephen Colbert, the show’s host, asked him how the conservative establishment could trust him after he abandoned his post as governor to start working for President Barack Obama’s administration as the ambassador to China, he replied: “I was raised with the belief, in my family, that you always put country first, (and) that if your president asks you to stand up and serve . . . you do as you’re told.”

Without endorsing any one candidate, it has to be admired that Huntsman set aside some parts of his own political agenda to assist the country in a time when the economy is stretched too tight. He sticks by some conservative principles, like the opinion that much of the economy’s present problems are the fault of the Obama administration, but he also doesn’t give in to any of this “birther” nonsense that ultra-conservatives like Rick Perry, a presidential contender from Texas, have flirted with.

The same could be said of General David Petraeus, who maintained a strict nonpartisan policy while his forces and the Obama administration worked to fix messes in the Middle East, and is now the successful director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

It can be easy to see our nation’s political structure as a battlefield, with two sides sparring and screaming. This is partially the fault of the loudest 10 percent of either army. They scream for no taxes and more taxes and no guns and more guns and no insurance and more insurance.

Right in the middle of this battlefield, dodging verbal bullets from both sides, stands the moderate. This person is crucial to the outcome of the battle, because (1) he can see everything that happens on either side, and (2) he just wants people to stop shooting at him so they can hear what he’s saying. Standing in the middle is a risky venture, though.

The man might call himself a conservative, but he might also think there’s nothing wrong with letting some greener legislation pass through the pipe (and maybe a few tax increases to pay for education). Maybe he wants to hold on to his own income, but also feels that anyone should be able to marry whomever they want to.

Perhaps he calls himself a liberal, but he is displeased with some of the early bumbling from the Obama administration, and isn’t so sure about making the health insurance situation even more bureaucratic and impenetrable than it already is.

Compromises are not perfect solutions, but they are solutions, and they are designed to move both parties closer to the desired end destination. And while the loudest people might sit on the outskirts of the battle and call themselves brave, the true fighters in the battle stand in the middle, where the fighting’s the hottest.

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