Monday, November 15, 2010

The Middle of the Road

I've always felt uncomfortable when admonished by those more moderate than I to, well, be more moderate. What is moderate? What is middle of the road? What does it mean to be in the center? Whenever I try to do so or be so, I squirm uncomfortably. I am able, usually, to hold two opposing views at once and fairly comfortably. There's some back and forth but, generally, something pulls me one way or the other and it's generally to the left when it comes to ideas about government, morality, etc. It's the call to the center that is especially difficult for me and counter-intuitive.

That sounds like a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo, I guess. But I read this excerpt at the blog Hullabaloo and decided to think about it for a while. What do you think?

This isn't a childrens game despite the efforts of these idiotic Villagers who are determined to pretend that there is an easy answer to the huge ideological gulf between the left and right in this country. These aren't two "extremes" of some mythical middle. They are the two competing American political belief systems, period. People who vote for Republicans know very well that they are voting for low taxes for everyone, including the wealthy, and they believe sincerely that everyone would be better off if they fended for themselves and let capitalism sort it all out. (How that plays out in their own lives is different,of course, but they are persuaded that most of their tax dollars are wasted on people who don't deserve it and they aren't going to change their minds.) Democrats believe that taxes are a price you pay for a secure, upwardly mobile society and that the wealthy can easily afford to pay more for the privilege of of living in a stable country with a strong middle class. Republicans are hostile to social security, medicare and all government programs designed to help the less fortunate. They simply do not believe it's an appropriate or moral thing to do because it makes people dependent and lazy. Democrats believe in egalitarianism, social justice and social welfare. However hypocritical these people are as individuals (and they most certainly are) they vote on the basis of competing worldviews that are not reconcilable by a bunch of accountants hashing out a compromise. Those differences are real and they're not "childish."* These are very distinct ideas about what government should do and how it should do it. What's childish is pretending that isn't so and insisting on some kumbaaya magical thinking that we can work it all out if "the extremes" would just stop being so unreasonable.


  1. It seems that many people who are in the middle, who could be pulled either way... don't vote.

    So we keep riding this roller coaster.

  2. I appreciate your views, your deep intelligence and caring. I don't have a lot of intelligent commentary to share on these posts, so I keep quiet - but I do love that you share your thoughts and your heart here.

  3. Yes! This is so true. There is no pendulum swinging from right to left with the dip of moderation in the middle. The ideas and ideology are simply DIFFERENT. Where to go from here is anyone's guess.

  4. I think that we often fail to see the bigger picture, which includes the fact that both Democrats and Republicans have promoted policies that favored the extremely wealthy. I think that both ideologies fail to plan for the fact that people are ultimately selfish and that the more power one has, the better the opportunity there is for one to be selfish. I think that both parties focus so much effort on promoting their own agendas while undercutting the other's that they refuse to even recognize weaknesses or points of exploitation in something they consider to be "theirs".

    I think that people rely too much on others to do their thinking for them. How many people do you know who bother to research what every candidate on the ballot is about? How many people actually read the text of proposed (or passed) legislation and take the time to understand it and the context? How many people just follow the voter guides handily prepared for them by their party?

    I think that we do ourselves a disservice when we accept one platform as a complete package from which we do not deviate.

  5. I dunno. Some Republicans and some Democrats have well-thought-out belief systems. Not all voters do, though. Some vote like their family always did. Some vote for the person they'd most like to have a beer with. And this election in particular it seemed as if a lot of people were voting without knowing the facts -- do Tea Party Republican voters who carry signs that say "Get Your Government Hands Off My Medicare" really understand the system well enough to be "hostile to social security, medicare..." for example? And how many middle class Democrats or Republicans actually knew that their taxes went down this past year?

    Me, I'm called to the left too. But I think that if we don't look for what areas of agreement do exist, and have at least some willingness to build on them, we're in for a world of hurt...

  6. I wonder whether we aren't doing ourselves a disservice by forcing ourselves to align with one or the other. I honestly believe that, while ultimately most people do fall into either one of the political camps, it's not because they want to, but because those are the choices. If you want a tuna sandwich, but your options are a hamburger or a PBJ, you have to choose one of the options. You might be able to find some others who want tuna and eventually set up a tuna stand, but that takes time and money and effort and if the burger joint and the PBJ folks have cornered the lunch market, it's going to be a tough road.

    Confusing politics with real, everyday life is easy to do, but I believe that in our every day lives, we are more alike in our desires and goals and coping methods than we let on. That is where we find common ground and, hopefully, rise above the politics to which we are bound a few times a year.

  7. remember, there is no middle without the two other ends.

  8. Wow, this is SO cool! I havenever conceptualized it like this before and I love reading new descriptors like this. Thank you for sharing it, I know what side I am on :)



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