First, some definitions. According to Wikipedia:
A political spectrum is a system of classifying different political positions upon one or more geometric axes that represent independent political dimensions.
Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. It typically involves a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished The term left-wing can also refer to “the radical, reforming, or socialist section of a political party or system”.
In politics, centrism— the center—is a political outlook or specific position that involves acceptance or support of a balance of a degree of social equality and a degree of social hierarchy, while opposing political changes which would result in a significant shift of society strongly to either the left or the right.
Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or the competition in market economies. The term right-wing can generally refer to “the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system”.
The far right is used to label movements based on fascist, racist or extreme reactionary ideologies. They tend to accept outcomes where one group is naturally better than another.
The far left is used to describe movements for social equality and egalitarianism, without social hierarchy. They tend toward socialism.
As with many topics, political beliefs cover a spectrum. It is properly described with shades of grey and is certainly not black and white. However, when we look at the political environment today we can make some clear observations.
- Both parties have extreme elements.
- The extremist groups tend to be well organized (thanks in large part to social media) and very vocal.
- Extremist groups are very skilled in applying political pressure, e.g. “primary-ing”.
- Extremists groups are numerically minorities.
- Both political parties are fracturing and at risk of schism due to extreme divisions in political philosophy.
- The moderates/centrists of both parties are not well organized, lack leadership, lack a voice with a persuasive message.
I would suggest that the majority of Americans are in the middle of the political spectrum. They do not align with the “elites”, whether political elicits, financial elites, or intellectual elites. Social pressure dictates that we must choose between extremely polarized political parties which encourages the social polarization that we are experiencing. I believe that America, at its core, is moderate, centrist with natural leanings to left or right, but moderate and not extremist. We are victims of the extremist battles of all factions in our midst.
To correct this situation we must somehow organize and find leadership and voice for the middle. Maybe this is the time for an independent movement – a difficult strategy given the well organized, and funded, extremist movements. But we must somehow give voice and support to the silent middle. Rational people listen to rational arguments. Let’s realize that reality dictates that change will be accomplished in moderate steps and not revolution as advocated by extreme positions. Let the extreme ideas from both sides support an environment of discussion and compromise. Let’s support a new movement of “Extreme Rationality”.
Photo by Andrew Aliferis