Posted by: JDM..... | March 23, 2012

on being politically marooned…..

and opting for “none of the above” …..

My sojourns into fits of political passion have been extremely infrequent and brief at that, but I would have to say that I have consistently favored a “Conservative” view overall. In fact, my only fixation of any note has been a decades old attraction to Libertarianism, although even that has found a softer place to settle in recent years somewhere between philosophy and pragmatism. My enjoyment of the writings of Ayn Rand hasn’t softened a bit, however. I still think she’s a good read and stimulates a lot of deep thought.

It has been an interesting path so far, from my days as editor of my college newspaper to my retirement a few years ago from the behavioral health field, my final career of several, where I was surrounded by adamant bearers of the “Liberal” banner.

I have often noted that my “Conservatism” is primarily fiscal in orientation, while “socially” I tended to follow a more “Liberal” view; I oppose government intervention into personal behaviors and responsibilities. While that position has no specific identity, except perhaps to be loosely described as “moderate”, it has become lonely territory of late. In fact, I have come to suspect, with no small amount of trepidation, and I am politically extinct and just don’t know it yet. The hackneyed observation that these are polarized times applies nicely. The middle road has been reduced to a filament that would challenge the Walendas at the top of their game.

I have maintained that retreating to the apparent safety of the mob at either extreme of the philosophical spectrum is out of the question. Nevertheless, I find my self-described residence on the Conservative side of the filament to be on rather shaky ground. I never thought anything could tempt me to move to the Liberal side of that divide, but I’m not so sure anymore.

I must clarify that my views have not changed a whit, and on both political and philosophical matters I remain “Conservative”, at least in the archaic sense of the term. Nevertheless, there is no denying that it has become unpalatable territory, not because my beliefs have changed but because the popular understanding of what that term represents has mutated into some goose-stepping, authoritarian, self-absorbed creature to which I cannot relate. In fact, it’s offensive.

This creates a bit of a conundrum. How can I respond to the issues of the day as a “Conservative” when the standard bearers of that camp have betrayed the mission and become extremists? Their counterparts on the other side of the aisle, as it were, have moved to launching grounds for their own missiles of ugliness, equally distant from more civilized centrist regions, and with similarly extremist “Liberal” icons. The labels “Right” and “Left” are, unfortunately, accurate caricatures of the present political climate, though “Wrong” and “Wrong” would leave a far better aftertaste.

The rigidity of modern “Liberalism” and “Conservatism” has rendered their traditional titles descriptive of narrowly focused “movements” rather than of broader philosophical environments involving a wide range of variables. Thus, I find myself tempted to leave the “Conservative” fold I have supported for so many years. However, it is not that I find the “Liberal” standpoint more attractive than I did in the past, or that I have changed my mind. As I stated above, extremism has come to dominate there as well. Moving laterally in an intellectual pigsty isn’t exactly what I would call progress. Removing myself from association with either may be the only rational choice.

In short, the thing that threatens to invite me out of the “Conservative” camp is the Conservative headliners themselves, and what they represent.

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Responses

  1. Imho one of the best pieces you’ve ever written. Speaking as one of those liberals who used to surround you, I can truthfully say it speaks to my own dissatisfaction with much of the current political spectrum. I so envy your ability to use language so expressively. I’m sitting here searching for words to adequately express my admiration.


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