Monday, September 18, 2006

The Middle isn’t Left, Right, or Wrong..

With elections just around the corner (But you already knew that because you’re registered and know exactly where to go right?) I’ve noticed a lot of hype about what this election could mean to the direction we as a country are headed. Pulling the layers back a little I also noticed another war that has been waged against Americans, the war against the middle.

With the political climate in this country constantly changing to become more and more polarized, it presents a frighteningly grim future. Why should we worry about a small group of extreme ideologist whom live thousands of miles away and hate us for what we do, we say, and how we act (don’t be fooled into thinking its just because what we represent). I ask that with one caveat, why worry about that group, when we have our own home grown extreme ideologists who pose a much greater threat to how the average American lives out their daily lives.

As much as I would like to throw most of the blame at the Right, which falls right into the trap I’m talking about. My views and political beliefs are heavily progressive, there is a lot wrong in the world, and there is a lot I feel we as a country could do to fix it. This statement is not conservative or liberal; in fact it’s both. I don’t think you could find anyone on either side of the spectrum that would disagree with it, but as always the devil is in the details. How one believes to approach these problems, and what their perceived level of importance is where you have disagreements. As with any point of conflict, there are a couple of paths that can be traveled in order to resolve it. The one I feel that is taken most often these days is the “I’m right, and you’re wrong” approach. Under this perspective, the individual has drawn the hard line and will never admit defeat. This farce is played out like a sport, the argument is revisited multiple times not to move it forward, but to see who can beat whom. The score is kept by counting the number of individuals converted from one side to the other. And if any form of victory is achieved, both sides will usually claim it, and explain how and why. Where do these clashes ring out, where are the bleachers set up in order to sway the largest amount of spectators? Smack down in the middle of the true mainstream.

Is it ok to be a moderate anymore? If you reject the preaching of the right and the left as too extreme either way, does that you condemn you purgatory in the eyes of both? Too much time is spent besieging these individuals, because both sides know victory can only be obtained by carving out the largest slice of the middle. Last time I checked, we were supposed to be a Democracy, but more and more, we look like a Republic. Issues are turned their head and if you happen to be on the right side of the majority, your views are rewarded, the rest of the 49.9% are left in the cold. This winner take all vantage point does so much more harm than any foreign power could ever do. It pits American vs. American, and is the breeding ground for statements such as “I believe they are more interested in Terrorist’s lives than American ones.” How are the people we are promoting Democracy perceive it when we American’s can’t even get the system to work right?

I’m not giving up on the system yet, just because we have traveled down the road of bitter partisan politics doesn’t lead to a single ominous fate. Instead of building political parties by drawing the middle farther right or left, lets try brining the two parties closer to the center. Face it, hard line politics of cutting out the majority of public beliefs to benefit the minority only serves to callus people further to the extremes. If I am a vegetarian, and I don’t eat meat by principal, trying to turn change society to fit my perspective is a dangerous, often abused practice

Lets say I was a vegetarian, and I was trying to make a difference. Let us also say it is my belief as a vegetarian, that we can lead happier healthier lives, if red meat was banned in the US. Once I reach this conclusion, I arrive at several different paths to promote this agenda. I may choose to act locally and protest outside of grocery stores, and hand out pamphlets with vegetarian recipes and information. Another method would to be an informational program that schedules presentations at area schools and community centers. There are many other spin-offs, but for the most part there are two main camps here, protest and education. All derivates of the options I have to promote this ideal are combinations in different degrees of these two methods. What is the most effective means that I could take? Well, there are still plenty of combinations, but in order to reach the widest market, you take a moderate stance. Advocating for decreased red meat consumption in an individual’s diet, and replacing that meal with a vegetarian may not get you exactly where you want, but it will have the biggest impact. Again we are left with a definition of what is victory in this arena, and if we play for all the marbles, it can get ugly.

The same right that gives you the voice to cry out against injustice, is afforded to those very same people you are crying out against. One can not exists without the other, and that is the grain of salt you must ingest before massing the troops. Paramount in these cases is the fact that principals do not ever solely justify the means.

When we paint each other with bold and inflammatory colors and tones, we only serve to further distance ourselves from fixing the problem. Calling someone a “great American” because they agree with you and are against the other side is just the opposite. To illustrate my final point, I choose the hotly debated topic of abortion. Would you rather live in a world that has little to no abortions because they are outlawed, or because they just aren’t needed as much anymore? The ends do not justify the means, and we are not as different as we all may think we are. Next time you have the chance, talk to someone who has an apposing view to your own. This time, don’t try and debate the topic, try to find some common ground first.

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