I have a thing against moderates, in part because I don't understand how one could be anything other than a flaming liberal, but in larger part because I don't know what a moderate actually is.
Perhaps most predominantly, self-described moderates see themselves as free thinkers, unbound by a political party and its dogmatic platform. Is a moderate anyone who devises opinions on individual issues independent of a party? That makes me a moderate, which is like saying Liberace was on the fence about his sexuality. No one with a brain agrees entirely with one party's platform.
Are moderates people with both "left" and "right" views? I'm one of those, too, then, to a minor extent. (Don't get me started on immigration policy.)
Does a moderate look at what Democrats say, look at what Republicans say, and choose to agree with one party half the time and the other party the other half? Or does he hold an opinion on each issue that's a square compromise of both parties' platforms? Is that even possible?
Along those lines, can we use "moderate" and "centrist" interchangibly? Of course I would argue that the political spectrum is in fact a political Cartesian plane or even a three-dimensional (or eight-dimensional) political sphere, so there is no such thing as a center position, thus no such thing as a centrist. So I'll ask this, too: What the hell is a centrist?
Maybe "moderate" has been confused with "willing to work toward bipartisanship." Somehow the ability to compromise has been construed into its own set of political beliefs.
Or maybe moderates just, more often than not, adhere to inoffensive beliefs. That's why everyone wants to pretend to be one.
Though I don't have any substantial evidence to support my hunch, I sometimes feel that moderates go out of their way to be moderate; they enjoy moderation for moderation's sake. They might agree with a more radically-leaning view at first, but, just to be a good sport, they give that cozy middle a test drive instead.
The biggest problem with moderatism, though, is that, rather than breaking down the partisanism and devisiveness of the extremes, it simply accepts that there are two sides to every story, and that both sides probably have some merit. What this attitude fails to address is that seeing the world as a dichotomous polarity is both inaccurate and ineffecient. Instead of refusing to recognize the value of radicalism, it validates it by sitting smugly in the middle and pretending to satisfy both sides. It seems a little counter-productive.
Ultimately the word "moderate" is substantively meaningless and usually an attractive cover for being apolitical, nonconfrontational, or a panderer.