Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Kindred Pragmatic Moderates vs. the Demagogified

Here's how a centrist/moderate sees both sides:

Liberals: Yield to my trendy sanctimonious furies and oblige my flamboyant victimhood...or else you can go crawl up and die.

Conservatives: Greed is good. Settle down, let the plutocracy work its totally benign magic unfettered, and enjoy the fattening of your 401K (if you don't have a 401K, try harder, loser).
Granted, that's more Conservatism circa 2015. But if "Greed is good" why wouldn't Trump deserve a personality cult?
How could any clear-headed, moral person support either side of this gross duality?

The answer: As I once wrote, the vast majority of liberals aren't actually liberal. They're just anti-conservatives. And most so-called conservatives are really anti-liberals. This explains why both sides shift around so shamelessly. They're entirely reactive, with no permanent grounding principles. Any scenario dominated by two "anti-" elements will be as gratuitously slippery as globules of oil in a puddle of vinegar. There's no "there" there.

I keep waiting for the massive forehead-smacking recognition to set in that anti-liberals and anti-conservatives are actually close to agreeing on lots of stuff (even on guns and abortion!), insofar as they can block out the loud-mouthed extremists of either side whose excesses constantly refresh the revulsion.

Good luck with that blocking-out, though. Both sides are correct in their disgust. The problem is a slightly milder and blurrier disgust for the extremists on your own side (incomplete registration of the excesses of one's own tribe is the prime mover in human affairs, as I briefly sketched here, where I made the case for a healthy misanthropy).

Extremists often wonder how anyone could remain centrist in these starkly divided times. My answer is that aside from a few million at either end of the bell curve, the overwhelming majority of us are actually kindred pragmatic moderates habitually affiliating as Dem or Rep mostly as bulwark against the excesses of the opposite extremists. The divisions among this super-majority are vaporous; as thinly symbolic as the division between sports fans. It's only a matter of time before more people get woke and opt out of the demented polarity. 

In the meantime, if you ever find yourself not just supporting but full-out loving/adoring some candidate (e.g. Trump or Bernie), that almost surely means you've been demagogified, and I pray you'll come to your senses and realize that the goal of politics isn't to tear it all down and build something more to your taste every round, but to select someone who'll competently make the sausage.
Competent sausage-making once sounded boring (though I can't fathom how it possibly could at this point) but it's actually an art; a neat trick not every administration manages.

After four years of observing entranced masses loving/adoring a guy for tearing shit down, it stuns me (ok, not really) that people viewing from the opposite end of the curve respond by saying "Cool! I want that...only more to my specs!" Will human beings ever learn to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism?

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