The other extremists
We know only too well about the extreme right wing, the ones who are actually running the Republican Party these days. And then there’s the extreme left wing, the ones the extremists on the right wouldn’t know if one bit ‘em on the ass because they’re too busy thinking Barack Obama is a progressive.
But there are another group of extremists we rarely mention. I’m talking about the radical middle, those extremist moderates who like to point on either side of their political ideology and harumph a lot.
Now, there are some moderates who are truly moderate moderates, not extreme at all. But let’s just get this out of the way right here and right now — they’re not the ones I’m talking about.
You know who I mean. The ones who think fans of Glenn Beck and “tree-huggers” are the same, just on different sides of the ideological divide. They’re champions of the “both sides do it” meme And they love to be all superior about it. But I gotta tell ya, they’re just as damaging as any of the other extremists.
Maybe I’m biased here … ok, I’m definitely biased … but I don’t see the logic in thinking that people who advocated armed rebellion against a president they don’t like and people think we ought not destroy the planet that keeps us alive are some kind of moral equivalent. There’s just no there there.
My colleagues do it all the time, because they think it makes them “balanced.” Riiiiiiggghhht. Balanced, like a pound of feathers and a pound of radioactive material are really the same thing. Balance in journalism isn’t an equation. Balance is digging into your story, getting all sides — because really, there’s never only two — and then writing a story that tells the truth. But that’s just too damned hard anymore. My beloved colleagues don’t have time to do that with all the fancy dinners with the president and make-up sessions for the Sunday network talkies and the 24-7 cable gabfests.
Maybe the extremist middle got that way because of what they see on the tube. I don’t pretend to know how it happened, but I do know that it’s a dangerous place. It’s the reason the meteoric rise in right-wing violence in this country barely gets a mention on the news, and when it does, it’s just some “lone wolf” or “isolated incident.” Calling it that means you don’t have to do the work to find out what’s really going on, although, truth be told, the work’s already been done by people like the Southern Poverty Law Center, who, by the way, get labeled a “liberal” group and therefor can’t be trusted as a source. Unlike, say, the conservative Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute, who are regularly treated as if they have some special knowledge and understanding of our country that makes them better than, say, the Center for American Progress, that radical leftist communist group.
It’s also a reflection of just how far right our political spectrum has gone. Now here’s the thing — the country, the people, they haven’t gone that far right.
So, Nunzia, you say, if that’s the case, how do we keep getting stuck with all these right-wing crazies in office? Well, my friends, it’s partly because of redistricting and partly because my colleagues feed the madness. Instead of talking about how, say, Michele Bachmann has a little problem understanding that the First Amendment protections for freedom of speech apply to everyone and not just who she likes, they spend days and days and days making weiner jokes or telling us about the trials and tribulations of former child stars who don’t get it that they are not queens of the universe.
We, the People, as Dave Johnson calls us, are being fed a load of bullshit, and unfortunately, some of us aren’t up to the task of sorting through it to find out what the real score is.
My colleagues treat Paul Ryan’s budget plan, for example, as if it’s just another plan to try to eliminate debt, different from the Democratic plan. I’ll say it is. It’s just another way to gut government and stick it to the poor, plain and simple. But they won’t say that. They’ll say that Democrats say it is and Republicans say it isn’t, except that’s not what Republicans say. Republicans, in fact, won’t answer that question.
And what my colleagues won’t do is question the very idea that the deficit is the problem. The problem they don’t seem to see (and no wonder, living in WonderWashington as they do) is fucking jobs. There aren’t any. Republicans said they’d work on jobs when they got into office this last time, but they’ve done absolutely nothing. Instead, they started in on social hot button issues like same sex marriage and abortion. But my colleagues don’t mention that either. They have no institutional memory of what was said or done last week, much less during a campaign a year ago, unless someone brings it up — and Democrats notoriously won’t do that.
And so the radical middle stays there, swearing both sides are as bad as the other and if they’d only come together and stop the bickering everything would be just fine. Can’t we all just get along? Well, in my book, it’s damned hard to get along with somebody who’s entire being is centered making sure the rich get richer and everybody else just shuts the fuck up and takes what scraps they can dig out of garbage bins.
But to the extremists in the middle, it’s all just partisan noise, amplified to ear-splitting distortion by my clueless colleagues.
Can’t we all just get along? Sure we can. Just as soon as we drop the feudal nonsense and start realizing that we humans really are all in this together. Hear that, radical moderates? I regularly hug trees, and I will gladly work with all of the other sides in this world, but there are some ground rules — no discussion about anything can go anywhere without some agreement on where we’re starting and where we’re going. And that, my friends, is precisely why debate in Washington is useless.
Conservatives think everything is hunky dory if it weren’t for those filthy liberals screwing with everything that makes this country great. Progressives think that we’re in a heap of trouble and it’s just gonna get worse if we don’t do something real about it. See? There’s not one iota of agreement in where we are. And if we don’t know where we are, there’s no way in hell we can figure out where we’re going.