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2ndClassCitizenPundit On February - 22 - 2011

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lu9Ycq64Gy4[/youtube]

mod·er·a·tion /ˌmɒdəˈreɪʃən/ [mod-uh-rey-shuhn] –noun

1. the quality of being moderate;  restraint; avoidance of extremes or excesses; temperance.

2. the act of moderating.

3. moderations, British . the first public examinations at Oxford University for the B.A. degree in mathematics or in classics.

—Idiom

4. in moderation, without excess; moderately; temperately: to drink in moderation.

Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/moderation

I propose a moment of silence for the concept of moderation (using definitions 1 and 4 above). Because it is dead. Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

One of my favorite quotes from Greek mythology comes from Apollo. When challenged by Ares on his stance on moderation, Apollo said, “I preach moderation in all things, including moderation.”

Our society and our political system has become overwhelmed by extremist viewpoints. Even centrists have become extremists, it seems. However, it is important to note that the definition of “centrism” has also been changed, so who knows what a real centrist believes anymore; not even the Audubon Society has spotted one in quite a while.

Take a look at some of the stances and issues that have been advanced lately.

  • A “Ground Zero mosque” which is not a mosque and is several blocks away from Ground Zero (in fact, there are strip clubs that are closer).
  • An “activist” who changes video or sets up fake situations to “expose fraud” in non-profit organizations.
  • Television personalities who accuse philanthropists of being Nazi collaborators and attempting to instill communism in all national governments.
  • Other commentators accusing the Republican party of advocating slave trafficking.
  • An alleged liberal blogging site accused of using bloggers as “slave labor”, despite the fact that most bloggers are not paid, and most of the bloggers in question are posting one or two blogs per month. (I say alleged because the juries on both sides seem to be in dispute as to which side of the spectrum the website belongs on)
  • Conservatives accusing the United Kingdom of being socialists because they formerly offered college education tuition-free and liberals accusing the same government of being fascist and abusive because the UK now “forces” students to pay tuition.

Oops. Did I say “spectrum”? Do we actually have a “spectrum” of viewpoints in this country anymore?

No, as a matter of fact, we don’t. We do not have a continuous spectrum of viewpoints. What we have is rays of color filtering dimly through a screen.

What I see happening is any dissent with any stated fact or opinion results in the speaker being accused of being on the other side of the entire issue.

For example, when a Democrat politician votes with the “other side”, he or she is accused of being a Republican or, worse yet, a Blue Dog Democrat. It does not matter if there were valid reasons for the Democrat’s stance on the subject (folks at home might have asked him or her to vote that way, it would benefit the people in his or her home district, or even that they believed – right or wrong – the measure would benefit a larger constituency).

Nope. It is now the politics of “conform or be cast out”.

Really? Do you really want to go with that?

In a recent discussion on the Wisconsin union issue, a person wrote about an early interaction with a union and their disaffection over the results of that interaction. Comments were made in support of the person eventually coming to understand the good that unions do. Some comments were made expressing similar dissatisfaction, and a majority of them were met with the “YFG” type response (“You Effing Bastard”).

Are unions good? I believe they are, despite the opinions of some people regarding what my “real” opinion might be. Are they perfect? Hell, no. Any top-heavy organization is not perfect. Abuses occur. Some abuses are documented and reported (and quickly dismissed as “isolated events”).

Are unions universally reprehensible? Is this even a serious question? I seriously doubt any organization is completely staffed and populated by 100%, bona fide, evil dictators masquerading as circus clowns.  There have been anecdotes of Gestapo officers doing kind things for elderly neighbors and cute puppies. I’m sure there are anecdotes of Saddam Hussein doing something nice for a little boy or girl he saw by the side of the road one day (and probably not having their teacher shot for giving the child a B on an assignment).

Those previous two sentences now entitle everyone on this site, everyone on the Internet, in the US, on the planet, and on this entire plane of existence the right to call me a sleeper agent for the Gestapo who funneled drugs and biological weapons to Saddam Hussein.

Yep. And I’m a birther too, obviously.

That is what passes for discourse in this country.

Nobody on the other side has a right to any fact or opinion that might agree in part with the other party’s platform (even if they don’t have a party). Nobody on our side has a right to agree with anything the other side has to say. Nobody on either side has a right to say the words “yes, but”. Nobody else has the right to say “I agree with the issue, but have concerns about this part.”

It is hilarious to note, however, that the same people, in every stripe of our now-motley spectrum, are now calling people within the other sections of the subdivided spectrum “Nazis”, while expecting people within their own subdivision to march goose-step toward a particular platform.

Part of the problem is that people suddenly seem to want more passion than reason from candidates and spokespeople. If you’re yelling, it means you’re more passionate. You really believe in the issue.

It’s really hard to maintain a loud argument when one is basically yelling, “I think the real solution requires a compromise between extreme poles of this argument!”

After a while, one just looks like a doofus.

The root cause of this new focus could be that people got tired of deadpan, boring delivery of speeches. When Ben Stern is reciting economic figures on a national broadcast that is pre-empting re-runs of “All in the Family”, people are going to experience a certain ennui with the subject. Follow that up with someone screaming the figures have been falsified with Communist sympathizers from the planet Venus, who want to emasculate every American male, and people are going to agree just to keep him talking, just for the entertainment value.

Remember the main complaint about Al Gore during the first Clinton campaign? “He’s boring.”

Not only is moderation a terrible thing (requiring years of electroshock therapy and waterboarding), but so is “boring”.

I know a lot of teenagers who say adults are “boring”. The global genocide against those people old enough to vote is coming. Mark my words.

Maybe that’s why Fox News (or as I call it, Fasc Noise) has higher ratings than the news-oriented programs: they yell and scream a lot, and the news is “boring”. But hey, wait a few minutes and Britney, Paris, Lindsey, and Mad Max will be on. Go to the kitchen during the weather, because that isn’t relevant to anyone.

I have to admit that a perverse side of me is looking forward to this little phenomenon spreading. When we get to the point where cities are promoting crime to make it more exciting (so they don’t get bombed for being boring, as part of the Federal Government’s Urban Revitalization Program), I’m going to move to San Francisco. After all, San Francisco has “We Built This City on Rock and Roll”, while most cities were built to the tune of a slow waltz, or maybe the Charleston, so I should be safe, at least until the Hip Hop Wars begin.

Written by 2ndClassCitizenPundit

45 year old gay man, ordained minister, veteran, writer, living in Vancouver WA (previously Palm Springs) About the time you assume I am serious, I will post something humorous or snarky; about the time you assume I am a clown, I will hit you with rational thought - don't assume. Read what I write, not what you think I write.

36 Responses so far.

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  1. Mild Bill says:

    Would this be an example of moderation?

    DURHAM, N.C. — When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job.

    “The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

    Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow’s Chapel in Henderson.”

    (To read the full article, please use this link):
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/24/pastor-loses-job-amidst-r_0_n_840120.html

    Rob Bell


  2. Smedley Butler says:

    Moderating your opinion is somewhat more difficult when trying to find the center ground between “Too hot” and “Bucket” This all to often seems to be the nature of the national debate.

  3. PlatoSunTsu says:

    I think the MSM has their contrast dial turned up all the way where everything is seen only in black and white and it sells ads.
    Capable intellects recognize that everything is really varying shades of grey.
    “Thou doth protest too much” personalities, like the squeaky wheel, get the attention of the MSM.
    Conflict sells, finger pointing and yelling sells, and hyper-hyperbole sells…
    Corporate Capitalism is the 900lb. gorilla riding the pink elephant in the living room and all else takes a back seat on the plastic covered sofa.

  4. Chernynkaya says:

    Really good post, 2nd! I think that moderation only seems dead to those of us who are caught up in politics. We read the partisan blogs and watch the cable shows that point out the very real differences between the Parties--and we are outraged. And rightfully so, IMO!

    But I know that we represent a small minority, and I don’t just mean a minority of ideologues. I mean most people are not paying even passing attention. As others have pointed out, most are too busy just trying to get by, raise their kids, deal with their personal issues. And most people are moderates.

    I believe that people don’t take the time to think things through or analyze the issues either. Because if they did, as has been shown, most people would vote for Dems. Our agenda is popular, but becasue of the overwhelming power of the RW media, they don’t understand that. And because of that media, it takes shrillness and anger to punch through all the noise. 24/7 cable has not served us well at all.

    I am not a moderate by any means. Sometimes I get very frustrated by the moderate stance I see the President take, as well as most Dem leaders. But they are correct in most cases to do that. I have to remind myself that most people are not as rabidly partisan as I am.Mist people ARE centrists--it’s the definition of centrism. And that’s what I wish most on the Left would stop and realize too-- that President Obama cannot sound like an Alan Greyson. (Who lost, BTW.) He cannot only cater to the Left--not if he wants the support of most Americans and get re-elected.

    • Thanks, Cher. You are correct.

      I used to call it voter ignorance. But it is more like arrogance. People are saying to themselves, “I don’t need any more facts, I’ve made up my mind.” Even though the facts show that the choice they are about to make is the worst one they can make for themselves.

      It also does not help that places like FN create news by quoting each other, and anything that does not fit into their rhetoric is accused of being fabricated or is just dismissed as irrelevant. That just feeds into the arrogance (or maybe it caused it).

  5. Haruko Haruhara says:

    Hah, this reminds me of the guy on HP who always called himself, “the voice of moderation…”

  6. cyrano1 says:

    I LOVE your article!! And every time I try to “moderate” my opinions, something like the Wisconsin issue comes up and I find myself jammed back into the spittle spewing species I’m really not fond of. Guess it boils down to my own reality that the “other” side really does have control of the agenda through corporations and corporate owned MSM. They do own too much of the governing process. Our small voice heard through our MSNBC heroes spend the bulk of their time REACTING: correcting lies, skewering the irrational “thinking” of assorted politicians, and revealing real motives behind the spin.

    Weighing our current education levels and our current direction in government against those of our better educated neighbors, our reality can’t be ignored. We’re a right-leaning, anti education country which celebrates individual rights; and while giving voice to shared responsibility, we prove otherwise through our uninformed votes.

    Many of us understand we can’t fix a country in quick decline when it’s full of fast food voters who lack basic critical thinking skills -- so we’ll continue to rail loudly against the process which continues to bring us down as a nation. And Ed Schultz, who a week prior to Wisconsin I found to be too loud and abrasive to watch, is now my current hero and the voice of reason.

    • Buddy McCue says:

      But are we REALLY a center-right nation?

      Down here in Georgia, it sure feels that way. But nation-wide polls show that most Americans support progressive ideas (even though the actual word “liberal” has been so thoroughly demonized.) There’s a good list of these poll results at this webpage here:

      http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2010/08/20/america-is-not-a-center-right-nation/

      A few from the list that I’ve copied and pasted:

      69 percent of U.S. voters agree that, “government should care for those who cannot care for themselves.” (Pew Research, 2007)

      64 percent of Americans would pay higher taxes to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens (CNN Opinion Research Poll, May 2007)

      69 percent of Americans think it is the responsibility of the federal government to provide health coverage to all U. S. citizens. (Gallup Poll, 2006)

      86 percent of Americans want Congress to pass legislation to raise the federal minimum wage (CNN, August 2006)

      71 percent of Americans think that taxes on corporations are too low. (Gallup Poll, April 2007)

      66 percent of Americans think taxes on upper-income people are too low. (Gallup Poll, 2006)

      78 percent of Americans think “women should have an equal role with men in running business, industry, and government.” (National Elections Survey, 2004)

      67 percent of Americans think the U.S. should emphasize diplomatic and economic means over military methods in combating terrorism. (Public Agenda and Foreign Affairs, 2007)

      Only 15 percent of Americans think the U.S. should play “the leading role in the world” (Gallup Poll, February 2007)—a remarkable rejection of U.S. global hegemony and empire.

      62 percent of Americans in September of 2007 thought the invasion of Iraq was “a mistake.” (CBS News, September 2007)

      70 percent of Americans want a multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty (Pew Poll, November 2005)

      • cyrano1 says:

        A Buddy and PW: Guess I’m thinking about the inability for our voters to think before voting. Here in Washington State, for example, voters resoundingly defeated two measures which would keep our state revenues flowing in and one which would have actually increased them. Two were regressive in that they would require sustaining a system which imposes state controls over who is allowed to sell liquor, and what food (bottled water, candy) should be taxed. The other was Bill Gates senior’s initiative to institute a state income tax dinging the top two percent of wage earners.

        People SAY they’re willing to pay higher taxes, but when it comes to the ballot box, they really proved they AREN’T. And I don’t believe that dems sitting it out made the difference. The vote spread was just too huge to explain it any other way: Voters really don’t like paying for the services they expect, no matter how they respond otherwise in polls.

        • Buddy McCue says:

          reply to cyrano --

          I see what you mean. What people are willing to do and what they are willing to say can often be two very different things.

          But these survey results I cited show that the people aren’t completely averse to progressive ideas, at least in theory. Maybe it really is mostly a matter of presenting the ideas to them better.

        • Yeah, a majority of people will say they support improving education for kids, but I have never seen a millage increase yet that passed at the polls.

          I have seen pseudo-cons convince developmentally-disabled adults to canvass in support of implementing a sales tax in Oregon, telling them that all mental health services and group homes will be closed if the tax doesn’t go through.

          (Luckily, that one failed)

        • PocketWatch says:

          cyrano --

          And that’s the problem. We can sell people ShamWow’s for $10 that cost 25cents to make, but we can’t sell people on the need for reasonable taxation for services?

          I don’t believe it. Politicians are just too chicken to try.

          When was the last time you have heard the words “tax increase” cross any politician’s lips in the last 25 years, other than in a negative way?

          We all know how hard it is to maintain a standard of living with a limited income.

          Why are government services exempt from the same phenomenon in people’s minds? Because everyone is afraid to make the case properly.

          • Buddy McCue says:

            PW-

            That makes a lot of sense to me. Plenty of politicians and “media personalities” make the case against government, but who is making the case FOR government services?

            No one, as far as I can tell.

      • PocketWatch says:

        http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/000486.htm

        “On issue after issue, voters across the United States support Democratic positions. And in generic Congressional polls, a majority of Americans consistently prefer Democrats over Republicans.

        Almost none of which matters for the Republican braintrust. For the GOP, 2008 wasn’t a popularity contest. The Republican strategy for victory hinges on turning out their base while ensuring potential Democratic voters stay home.”

        “The Republican 25% Strategy of divide, suppress and conquer is simple. First, fire up the base with red meat issues, while using the proven conservative “distribution” channel of churches and single issue advocacy groups to get them to the polls. Second, drive down the participation of potential Democratic and independent voters through curbs on registration, onerous new ID requirements, and polling place eligibility challenges.”

        • Buddy McCue says:

          Pity that strategy works so well.

          I don’t have the statistics to back it up, but I have heard that the less people vote, the better the Republicans do in elections.

          That sure would explain why they put so much effort in suppressing the vote, while Democrats put so much effort in the opposite: increasing the number of voters.

  7. HelenWheels says:

    Extremism here has become mainstream. And it was engineered thus. Even on NPR yesterday, someone used the term “ground zero” to refer to the protest in Madison. Seriously? Is “ground zero” the new term for any place that’s newsworthy now?

    Moderation is good, in just about everything. And we are no longer allowed that in our ever-increasingly violent and adrenaline-addicted society. Things have to be exciting! That’s why drug use and alcoholism and other forms of escapism abound. Critical thinking is, therefore, out of style and out the window.

    Great article, with lots to ponder. Thanks.

  8. funksands says:

    “…The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

    -George Orwell

    In Front of Your Nose

  9. Marion says:

    I have to bang on with my pet peeve, because it’s related to this: People have abandoned critical thinking. Instead of using the gray matter, we think -- like Dubya -- with out gut.

    On my last blog, I made a reference to The Big Lie, explaining how as a propaganda technique, it was developed by Josef Goebbels and used remorselessly by the Nazis. When I posted this on Daily Kos, I got reams of comments, objecting to the fact that I’d mentioned Nazis.

    Go bloody figure.

    We’ve all become a nation of Dubyas.

  10. PocketWatch says:

    I read somewhere, a long time ago, that maybe 10% of everyone living in the British Colonies in North America during the latter part of the 18th Century cared one way or another about revolution, colonial rule, separatism, independence, or any of that. They just wanted to live their daily lives and continue to do what they did every day.

    I don’t think much has changed.

    The number of people by percentage of the total population that care vehemently one way or another on any issue of the day is not likely to ever reach into the double digits. I can’t prove that, but all one has to do is to see reports about how many people can even point to the US on a globe or know who the Vice President is, or even name the Speaker of the House, let alone speak or write coherently about any current issue to get the point.

    Whether the Left, the Right, or the mythical Center cares about any issue is hardly the point. Very few others are barely aware of issues, let alone care about them. It has been my lifelong experience that politics in this country is a spectator sport, with very few understanding the rules, the players, or the game itself.

    Every year, biannually, or quadannually we have about 2 weeks’ worth of attention to politics and issues and players by the public in general. Again, I remember professional politicos claiming that is about all the time they really have to capture the general populace’s attention. The rest of the time, it is mere Kabuki theater for the 10% that pay attention. Jockying for position before the puck drops… the scrum in rugby… the huddle before the play in football… the occasional music before the play begins…

    It takes extraordinary events or catastrophic upheavals -- engineered or otherwise -- to move the general populace to pay attention. And that is what we are currently seeing. Each “side” is invested in making one event or issue catastrophic in the population’s eyes to grab their attention. Everything is disaster. Every day.

    What happens when you are told you face disaster every day and then look up and nothing much changes in your daily life? That disconnect between what you are told and what you see tends to numb the brain and empathy for anything. The conclusion most ordinary citizens makes is that it IS all just Kabuki entertainment, cheers for the side they like, pay no attention to the details or the real issues, and screams for the other sides’ heads.

    And then they go fishing.

    • Caru says:

      “I read somewhere, a long time ago, that maybe 10% of everyone living in the British Colonies in North America during the latter part of the 18th Century cared one way or another about revolution, colonial rule, separatism, independence, or any of that”

      That’s probably because they were left alone for the most part.

      Think about it for a minute. It’s the 18 century and Britain is thousands of miles away. Taxes and such things were almost unenforceable and rather low to begin with. Britain generally didn’t bother with the colonies and it’s only when they started paying attention that things kicked off.

      • PocketWatch says:

        I believe the reference I was citing said that this was during the Revolutionary War itself. Some people were rabid Tories, and some were rabid revolutionaries. The rest just wanted to be left alone and hoped that whatever the hell was going on ended as soon as possible so they could get back to their lives.

        I may be totally wrong, but that’s what I remember. I don’t think that people change all that much century to century. They weren’t any better or worse than we are right now.

        • Abbyrose86 says:

          I read the same PW. Actually I read it in more than one history book.

          From what I read, most of the populace were not for it…they weren’t that vested in the outcome, and as you said…they just wanted to get back to their day to day lives.

          • PocketWatch says:

            Abby & Caru…

            I just spent 45 minutes on Google trying to find any support for my contention and could find none.

            The vast amount of information on the other side of the coin is surprising. I don’t know if there is just so much out there that rah rah’s for the idea that most people in the Colonies were for revolution that it overwhelms the contention, or that the contention is false in some way.

            Like Abby, though, I DO remember reading that.

            • Chernynkaya says:

              PW- I started with Howard Zinn, and stopped there too. If you like, maybe you can go further with Zinn.

              Untold Truths About the American Revolution

              http://www.progressive.org/zinn070309.html

            • Abbyrose86 says:

              PW…glad to be of service!

              It’s funny because I do recall reading the same years ago…and with taking this class the whole thing was brought up again, so the books are LITERALLY right next to my computer!

            • PocketWatch says:

              Abby to the rescue!

              I am always willing to retract something I can’t verify.

            • Abbyrose86 says:

              I actually have two books at my finger tips….with the info!

              I’m taking a cultural anthropology course this semester that is actually dealing with the various perspectives of American History!

              First book..

              The Great Upheaval, America and the Birth of the Modern World 1788-1800 by Jay Winik.

              Second Book
              The American Past, A survey of American History 9th edition by Joseph R. Conlin

              :)

              An


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