I want to stand as close to the edge as I can
without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things
you can't see from the center.**
-- Kurt Vonnegut
In politics, there's always talk of the need for a middle road, a proverbial path where extremes are blended into some sort of equanimity. People who cry for moderation maintain that there is great virtue in being moderate, that the voices of the left and the right are "too extreme," "irrational," "out of touch with normalcy," etc. My father, a very wise and intelligent moderate bemoans the lack of civility in modern politics and abhors extreme positions on either the right or the left, but as a moderate, his viewpoints are often mysterious to me. I don't know, really, where he stands. I'm not moderate and would never claim that my way is the right way. It's just my way, I think. I try to temper my beliefs and listen to those whose beliefs are dissimilar, but I feel a weird pressure to somehow move to the middle, to recognize commonalities, to embrace what binds us together to use some common expressions and exhortations from seemingly more reasoned people than myself. And I'm finding this to be nearly impossible. Frankly, I don't think the middle is that great of a place. Even more frankly, I don't want to move to the middle.
I thought about these things this morning as I drove back from Oliver's school and listened to NPR's coverage of the Republican primaries in Alabama. A nice-sounding guy told the reporter that he was still undecided on whom he would be voting for in today's primary. I'll paraphrase his comments and put my own in parenthesis):
Republican Primary Man: I like Romney for his financial acumen. (He used the word acumen, so I'm assuming he's thoughtful and well-educated, a plus, but there's controversy about just how Romney ran his businesses and acquired his vast wealth. I believe voting for him is like voting for a corporation to be president).
Republican Primary Man: I like Gingrich for his foreign policy views. (Okaaaay. Bomb Iran?)
Republican Primary Man: I like Santorum for his social views and emphasis on family values. (Okaaaay. Hatred of homosexuals, stripping women of reproductive rights, blending church and state, religion and politics?)
Now, where am I going to find commonality with this guy and where is he going to find commonality with me, other than the obvious fact that we're both humans and good enough people (although I really think that anyone who espouses the social views of Santorum is NOT a good person). Why do I have to walk some middle road with the likes of him?
I don't have any answers and am thinking aloud, obviously. Have you heard of the word sheeple? I guess it refers to people who flock together like sheep. That's how I currently see the middle road. I'm going out on a limb and saying, f*^$ that. I'm walking on the edge.
** Thanks to Erika for leaving a comment on this post with this quote! It's just so perfect that I had to add it.