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Comment of the Day: Everyone’s a Centrist… In Their Own Mind

November 3, 2009
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Tar and Feathers commented on Tim and Alissa’s new Maddow Post today:
2009 November 3
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It’s all a matter of your point of reference. Many liberals see their ideology as the default center. They believe that they represent middle America. The far left see themselves as moderately left. From that perspective, the moderate right seem conservative and the actual conservatives appear out on the fringe. It would be like living in Anchorage all your life and wondering how those crazy people in Seattle can stand the heat.

Don’t forget that liberals think they’re the standard and norm in this country.

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Ideology is really relative stuff. The terms are always changing and mean different things to different people. David Horowitz is fond of pointing out that the “liberal” politics of John F. Kennedy are identical to the “conservative” politics of Ronald Reagan. And that the politics of those called “liberal” today would have been called radical when promoted in the ’60s.

In my own life as an ex-leftist who often has to describe his new politics to his friends and family I get confronted with especially skewed ideas of what it is I’ve become. Some seem to think that now that I identify as a “conservative” it means I hate gay people. To that my response is pretty basic: meet my friends Mark J. Koenig and Cynthia Yockey. I think they can explain how a support for gays is compatible with conservatism better than I can.

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2 Comments
  1. Cas Balicki permalink
    November 3, 2009 9:11 pm

    Now this is interesting. Viewing the question of conservative versus liberal from a historical and philosophical perspective the plain fact is that most people when asked would be unable to identify the political philosophers on whose ideological foundations they stand. Yet, people will in most cases self-identify as either conservative or liberal, which raises the question of meaning. But what this post seems to suggest is that ideologies change over time in that yesterday’s Kennedy is today’s Reagan, further obfuscating ideological meaning.

    To be elected today Kennedy would have to run as a Republican, as the Democrats wouldn’t give him the time of day. Does this mean that the political center is on an inexorable drift leftward? Fifty years ago the love that dare not speak its name is today converted into a political plea for same sex marriage. Yesteryear’s advocates of segregation, who openly urged racial separation, are seen today to have been lunatics. Do these two examples prove the point that all liberals and progressives would like conservatives to accept, which is that they are the vanguard ushering in the enlightened future? Even as great a conservative as William F. Buckley Jr. took his mission to be standing athwart of history shouting stop. Could the progressives be right, are they on the side of the angels?

    Pity real progress is never made by societies, groups, or political parties. What goes unremarked by the progressive left is that progress, social and otherwise, is never made by groups but by individuals who first discover, invent, or conceive the way forward. An individual, William Wilberforce, after concluding that slavery was evil, acted on his notion and within his lifetime Britain began a campaign to end the practice in its empire and on the high seas. Similarly, Lincoln risked a young nation to bring an end to the atavistic practice in America. My personal favourite, Albert Einstein, among other brilliant strokes of genius, first conceived the possibility that time was not what all then thought it to be. Almost no one believed him, mostly because almost no one understood what he was saying. Then in 1919, on the heels of the first post-war eclipse, the evidence proving him right began to trickle in as light coming from two distant stars was seen to bend around our eclipsed sun. Today anyone with a GPS unit in his car indirectly proves the relativity of time without even knowing that he is doing precisely that when he is able to turn left when electronically told to do so.

    Can any of these men be defined as liberals or conservatives? Are their politics of any relevance when it comes to the work of their lives? Progressives would have us believe that they and these geniuses are kindred so that they might claim them and all the other geniuses and good men of history as their own. This is to be resisted, for each genius was and remains today an individual marked by singular accomplishment, accomplishment that only coincidently elevated their society and the world.

  2. nick chagouris permalink
    November 7, 2009 2:30 pm

    Virtually all the evil in the history of the world has been committed by people who are certain they did the right thing.

    While it’s important to acknowledge the truth in the idea that most people believe they are “the norm”, it is also important to understand that not everyone does. I submit that there are many who are drawn to the fringes because they do not want to be like the “misguided, brainwashed normies,” as they see it.

    I understand the relativism in the author’s idea, and I also see the slippery slope of merely accepting it without careful consideration. Politics, by its nature demands a set of beliefs for its identity. Human nature defines the “norm”, or the “center”, if you will, by the majority.

    How convenient it would be for those who aspire to Rule to create a perfect divide so that there would be 2 opposing factions rather than a majority norm. With the right amount of governmental interference, tweaking, and imposition, it can be manipulated. And it has been.

    This is what the Founders feared from the very beginning. They knew that the only way to maintain and support our freedoms was to support and maintain a moral population. Some of them thought the early Americans were not moral enough. But they eventually came to trust in the goodness of the people to support the system which required that. The whole experiment rested upon the morality of the population. And you can be sure the Founders were clear about the definition of morality – morality wasn’t “relative.”

    There has been a very deliberate and strident effort by the left that has spanned decades to influece public opinion and morality. A divided population is one that can be controlled, or conquered. Does that sound like conspiracy theory? The evidence is overwhelming. The result is self evident. We are divided and it’s getting hairy.

    Unless the American population can once again rally around accepted norms which it agrees is for the ‘good-of-the-many’, there is little hope for our future. An space alien could observe us and make this assessment with ease. It’s a lot harder when you are in the middle of the mess – as you and I are. As a nation, we aren’t standing for anything. We are divided. As factions we are fighting about everything. We are terrified that we might offend a few people – we are so “polite.” The government continues to fan the divisive flames as it plunders our wealth.

    So what is it that once served as the binding agent of our population that worked so well? (“Well” being defined by the result of a common bond of love of country, mutual respect, pride, hope, optimism, and security) I want to believe it was our very Constitution and the strict adherence to it by holding ourselves and each other accountable according to a morality that the Founders saw as self-evident.

    How many governmental practices and legislations have the American public accepted over the past couple of decades that were clearly unconstitutional? Why are we now shocked with the current administration’s extreme overreaching of their constitutional right?
    Why do we allow it?

    A slipper slope indeed. We have been slipping downward for at least a few decades. Now we are approaching a muddy swamp at the bottom, and no one knows how deep the swamp is or what creature lie in wait for us in the depths. Will it swallow us all up?

    Can the inherent spirit of American Liberty awaken and emerge to save the day? Perhaps. But we’d better get busy. A Constitutional Conservative leadership just might steer us back to what America was meant to be, according to our founders. But we might have to ditch the whole idea of Political Correctness and special treatment of diverse minorities and once again embrace equality for all under a blind law, which is The American ideal.

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