To say that someone is “obstructionist” is to assume that what they are obstructing is good. Unless you’re at a Tea Party rally, and sometimes there is high praise for halting disastrous spending.

Similarly, to hurl the epithet of “extremist,” which is what liberals do when we actually live up to our principles, is to assume that what we are being extreme about is bad. “Extremeness” is relative, and, like obstruction, morally neutral in the abstract. Gandhi was extreme, Martin Luther King was extreme, and so on.

These terms are used only to frighten those who do not know better. Anyone with any principles would love to be accused of living them out fully. Someone who stands on principle is less likely to compromise than someone who stands on ideas.

For instance, if someone is pro-life and strongly believes in the sanctity of life, they are very unlikely to compromise on the abortion issue. Whereas someone who is pro-life simply because it is the popular stance in their church or family would be willing to negotiate on the issue.

We should carefully examine those individuals who have been characterized as obstructionist in our society and determine which group they belong to.