I love a good debate. I’ve have many of them with friends on every side of the political spectrum. Radical Centrism — my prescription for recovering a dynamic center to US political life — is based on the notion that we should not eliminate the wildest ideas from any side of the discussion about solutions: libertarianism, socialism, Democrat, Conservative, Trumpist. To do so risks the mistake of the blind men describing the elephant of seeing only a limited part of the universe and mistaking it for the whole.
But when opinions are informed by venal or racist motive, inflamed ignorance by mob-inciters, or descend into talking points designed not to illuminate, but to distract from and obscure, well, I that’s where I tend to get off the bus… I try to call things by their real names, because so often euphemisms and “talking points” are just stratagems to disguise racism or ignorance, and avoid actual debate. So the originators don’t have to acknowledge, even to themselves, what is happening to the country they (mostly) love.
And here I have been roundly criticized by my conservative friends. They take such impatience on my part as precluding the rational discussion that my ‘radical Centrism’ posts imply. True, perhaps. One of my many Facebook friends is convinced that because I point out (with significant supporting facts) we live in a nation built on systematized racism, I am calling him a racist. Well, I am, but only because I am calling us ALL racists. These attitudes are so ingrained in our culture and politics that many consider themselves “colorblind” even while unconsciously carrying out racist cultural and legal practices. Make no mistake, all Americans are implicated in our support of these policies: otherwise egregious racial disparities (please see Michelle Alexander again) would have ceased to exist long ago.
So I don’t want him (or any of us) to jump off a bridge. I just want him (and all of us) to work on finding where we might harbor a bit of racial resentment, or might make blithe generalizations about people of color as a group, or might be contributing to a party or President who use race and race-related issues to increase popularity. I have searched my own actions and have found plenty — including the “identity politics” and “demographic inevitability” that are included in so much democratic-leaning political thinking. Calling things by their real names resonates. If racism resonates (like the words’ identity politics,’ ‘politically correct,’ ‘snowflakes,’ do for me) then there’s probably at least a partial truth in there that stings.
So let me say for sure: Please don’t take umbrage if I occasionally offend. Trying to find a truth, or a narrative that suggests a truth, is not easy. But it is essential for trying to understand the large forces and small acts that define our common reality, and our disputing unrealities. I have no defense for my opinions, other than facts I can bring to the table with them. Beyond this, any narrative logic I use in describing the world, relies completely on the listener’s assent. On this ground, I believe we can share a conversation and begin to break down our divisions. The key, really, is to focus on policies, not labels.
The irony from the parable of the blind men and the elephant, is that, if they had just pooled their knowledge, their perceptions of the individual elements would have comprised a pretty good picture of an actual elephant
So what about policies?
Well, as I have shown in earlier posts, I’m ready to debate what kind of immigration policy makes sense. I’m ready to identify immigration as it correlates to crime. I’m ready to assemble ALL the information available to make the best decisions about who, how, and why.
I think acknowledging the faults of our regulatory apparatus and its excesses is important to balance the common good against the individual, an find a model that is better at accomplishing our environmental, labor, and safety goals without building governmental fiefdoms that simply exercise power.
in light of the apparent groundswell of support for a President apparently intent on dismantling the Western Alliance and NATO as we knew it, and shift our allegiances to modern dictators like Putin, perhaps it’s time to review our 70 year global Pax Americana, including NATO, the UN and other institutions capable of mediating conflict. Perhaps it is outdated for the new cold war: cyberwarfare and cyber-propaganda. Perhaps a conservative-liberal-Trumpist point-counter-point would be helpful to illuminate all the issues on a very complicated subject fraught with danger no matter which direction we select….
Some of my friends are persuaded that welfare merely encourages laziness. I remain unpersuaded, but it’s hard to deny the human logic that some resentment would arise from providing assistance for some and not for others. In an era of increased automation and offshoring, and the poverty of prevailing wages, we need to have a full-throated discussion about government assistance to most every class to mitigate the impacts of the growing disparity of wealth in the age of the self-entitled superrich.
Some conservative friends would like to return to universal service to serve country. Whether and how that would work is complicated and needs a lot of good thinking. But it seems it could be helpful to: increase civic knowledge and responsibility, provide next-to-volunteer labor for important US goals, including military, infrastructure, peace corps, and social service.
I’m ready to debate Obamacare, or a single payer alternative. While a laissez-faire attitude is the farthest thing from a solution as I, or the majority of United States citizens, think is feasible — I’m even fine with that being thrown into the conversation.
It’s past time that we discussed globalization and free trade openly and honestly. We do need to evaluate the known benefits and drawbacks of our early efforts at acknowledging the fact the that money, information, labor markets, consumer markets have escaped national boundaries. And whether a return to trade nationalism offers a chance at success in putting the genie back in the bottle or not, it is worthy of discussion.
So many things on the Radical Centrism agenda should be discussed between liberals, socialists, conservatives and Trumpists. The irony from the parable of the blind men describing the elephant, is that, if they had just pooled their knowledge, their perceptions of the individual elements would have comprised a pretty good picture of an actual elephant. So, I continue to believe there is ground for incorporating elements of all these viewpoints into a range of solutions that would constitute a consensus agenda.
However, each person and/or faction participating must have the humility not to believe they know it all to begin with. They must concede that they might just be seeing their own part of the elephant. Would this encourage the participants to have the courtesy to let people express their ideas with our being shouted down, or name called? Can we have faith that we find truth only with multiple points of view working to persuade others with real facts and data, and must be working in good faith for the common good? Might be worth a try…
One thing I believe we MUST insist on: no euphemisms. Call things by their real name. If that includes a little pain for me, or thee, so be it.
What is certain is that naming and labeling of people has little to do with solutions that work. So we must learn to take stock of the names we are called (they do reflect how people perceive us, after all), but to basically ignore them as we get down to creating agendas that can improve things for as many as possible.
By the way, I have taken to collecting news articles in special curated magazines on the Flipboard program. These are facts and opinions that interest me and which provide some of the statistical rationale (and narrative logic) for the concerns that interest me. It’s fun, and I hope you find it informative to supplement your reading.
Metadada ‘Pocalypse Review is a catch-all magazine and media repository for articles I am writing or have written or support/disagree with my trains of thought.
OK, It’s the Trump Show is my surrender to Trump, Trump Trump all the time. A collection of articles specifically about our current President.
Radical Centrism Review is my search to recover a dynamic center to our politics
Culture: Wars and Pieces is relating books, movies, music and art to the current state of our social and political structure.
Let me know what you think!