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One Person’s Extremist is Another’s Moderate
July 9, 2017Posted by on
I’d like to take a moment to talk about the political divide that exists in America today. It is a topic I have thought about a lot over the years. It is a thing that keeps getting worse. It is a thing that I see every single day because I read a couple of liberal blogs and a couple of conservative blogs every single day. What I see are two sides of the same coin of clueless, mind-numbing hypocrisy and closed-mindedness.
The latest evidence of this … An op-ed from Leonard Pitts. I don’t necessarily disagree with Pitts’ primary thesis which is that the Republican Party has achieved maximum meltdown. The thing is that it really started when Bill Clinton was elected President. The accusations that the Clintons participated in drug smuggling, killed Vince Foster and Ron Brown among others, and so many other ridiculous conspiracies. All of which still make regular appearances in the right-wing blogosphere. The meltdown continued with the Swift Boaters and other similar conspiracies that failed the basic test of reality and honesty.
Obama’s election sent the Republican Party even deeper into what appears to be a brain freeze like the kind you get when you eat something cold too fast. And Trump’s election has only accelerated the thing.
This was from the White House Correspondent’s Dinner a few years back. Obama took no small pleasure in poking fun at Trump and watch the video for Trump’s reaction. I’m convinced that we are seeing the most successful act of petty revenge the world has ever seen. Trump ran to destroy the Obama legacy. You see it in his petty tweets attacking anybody who attacks him. He does not let any slight go. He holds a grudge and he seeks to destroy. You see it in all of the things he has done to take whatever action he can to reverse any and every success Obama achieved as President.
And the Republicans are ignoring all of his immaturity, damaging actions and words, and evidence of his incompetence to further their extremist objective of rolling this country backwards about 70 or 80 years.
So, yes Mr. Pitts, the Republican Party has descended into a realm of unimaginable extremism, but for a portion of this country, the Democrats aren’t far behind.
In your op-ed you state the following:
We are not, after all, divided because Americans pulled back from the center and retreated into extremism.
No, we are divided because one party did. And it wasn’t the Democrats.
I say this as a lifelong Democrat, a liberal, somewhat of a progressive. I say this as somebody who hasn’t voted for a Republican since the 1980s. Your center-based policies, isolated by your liberal ivory tower views, are viewed as extremist by millions of Americans. Having the federal government force states and local governments to allow transgender or gender-confused individuals to use the bathroom of their choice is an act of extremism. No matter how much you may believe that is a necessary policy. Providing a free public college education for all may just be viewed as an act of extremism by many Americans. No matter how much you may believe it is a wise idea.
The problem in America these days is that both sides have descended into their own echo chambers and are incapable of seeing their ideas and policies through the eyes of others. They are unwilling to consider that anybody but their chambermates have legitimate ideas. The right believes every liberal lies and hates America. The left believes the right is racist and prone to violence. Each side believes that the other is the extremist.
Mr. Pitts’ op-ed is a perfect example of the problem from the left. Look at all the horrible things the Republican Party is now engaged in! They are juvenile and unhinged and horrible!! Whew, it’s a good thing us Democrats are so reasonable and level-headed.
It’s really just kind of ridiculous as far as I’m concerned. Neither side is entirely right, but they both think they are. Neither side is entirely wrong, but they both think the other is.
Barry Goldwater once famously said that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” He’s right, I think. What the right-wing and left-wing have become, however, are extremists in the battle for every little thing. The result is a frozen democracy incapable of moving forward as any common ground disappears in the endless war they fight with each other.
I dig Pitts. I think his piece after the 9/11 attacks was one of the things that drew me to his work. But I have to agree with you on this. Both sides are unable, at this point, to own their shit. Simple as that.
Great piece, King.
As I said, I don’t disagree with his thesis in this piece and frequently find myself saying “hell yeah” when I read him. I’m just tired of the inability of both sides to listen to or talk with each other. I make comments on a couple of liberal blogs and am accused of being a Trump supporter. I make comments on right wing blogs and am accused of lying and of hating America. There is an absolute unwillingness on both sides to recognize the value of collaboration and compromise.
I get it. And I’ve experienced the same thing. Consensus has become an antiquated notion.
“Which leaves me impatient with those who frame our political divide as if the issue were that left and right had equally abandoned the center. No fair observer can believe that.” ~ Leonard Pitts
It’s the “equally abandoned” that’s the nut of all this. The state of Missouri just passed a law saying that cities there can’t raise the minimum wage on their own. House Republicans are pushing for looser gun laws after the Virginia shootings. Justice Gorsuch is proving to be even more conservative than he let on in his confirmation hearings. The list goes on and on.
That’s why I’m inclined to dig in on my progressive values.
BTW, I think your title works better reversed:
“One Person’s Moderate Is Another’s Extremist.” That’s how it’s been applied to the left, anyway …
I think my point is that very few partisans is actually a “fair observer.” What seems reasonable and moderate to you and I is extreme to others. I have no problem with digging in on your values, I hope you do. I just don’t think we do ourselves any favors when we tar the other side with the extremist label while denying the possibility they may view us in the very same way.
Put another way … labels are easy, but they prevent real debate.