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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Election Season Morality Play

The great moderate middle of the American political debate owes a great debt to the contrasting extremes in American politics.  Like one sitting for an eye vision exam while looking at the letter chart, we are asked by the optometrist who is constantly changing lenses for us in the exam room, “Which is better--this or this?”  The best glass prescription involves a process of contrast, elimination, and finally selection—we moderate to the best choice.  In politics the extremes help us moderate to the middle.  In American politics the two extremes contrast most pronouncedly on the role of government.  The extreme right tends to view government as the devil; the extreme left tends to worship government as a god.  The right sees government as essentially threatening to rob man of his birthright of choice and free will; the left sees government as the final guarantor of human liberty and happiness.  The attribution of devil or god is not overstated.  The passions elicited on both sides indicate the depth and sincerity of positions held.  The contest is truly of mythic proportion and the operative truth becomes the sincerity of the passions expressed.  The extremes function as the abysmal depths surrounding the political field.  They tend to be beneficial for the great middle for they offer stark contrasts and a means to open more moderate discussion and debate.  As in the eye exam, we can say “Not this, more like this.”  

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