I think I'll address a few misconceptions I see in here
1. Moderators can't magically transform a comment into an answer
Posting an answer is a serious undertaking, that someone posting a comment does not want to make. Moderators can't force this unto users, if they don't want to post an answer the best we can do is to encourage them.
The answer-in-comment still can't stay.
NOTE: I think this confusion arises from knowledge of what moderators can actually do, i.e. turning answers into comments. This is rarely done, as the comment-in-answer after conversion has to be a good comment, or the conversion needed, and rarely these are true.
2. Moderators have to act as quickly as possible if there is no ambiguity
Is the comment useful? Does it ask for clarification? Does it provide clarification? Does it add useful information to the post?
If all the answers are "no", there is no ambiguity, the comment can go and won't be missed.
I personally add a further question: "is it a joke that many will want to post?" even if it goes against something the previous moderators taught us. But if the community wants, we can go back to removing jokes as well.
3. Moderators are part of the community
Strictly speaking, there is no "Unilateral action by moderators before the community". Moderators ARE PART of the community.
Moderators are elected by the wider community to do stuff quickly and to enact policy. To do this moderators can access some tools that are unavailable to other users, but this does not cast moderators as outsiders.
4. "The Hangar" is alive and well
Sure, with respect to the early days of the site there is less activity, but you want to see a chat that is "collecting figurative dust"? there are sites whose main chat has never been active, or where the last message posted by a user was months ago. Our channel still has some almost-daily activity, if you post there, people will see it and react to it.
5. Meta is useful
If you know how to use it, that's the catch. If you want to propose a fundamental change to the rules of a community, and you pitch it to people that invested years into growing and shaping that community, you better have a good and well-formed case, or they won't be very receptive, and rightfully so.
6. There should not be many comments
That's why the system starts complaining after a certain amount of comments get posted under the same post. Except in very specific and exceptional cases, there should be very few comments under a post. Ideally none (after possible issues with the post have been resolved).