February 20, 2005

Extremism Isn't Everything

There seem to be a lot of people who confuse strongly-held positions with principled positions. They are often worlds apart. Extremism certainly has its virtue, when coupled to other ideas, but by itself it's not indicative of anything beyond itself.

The instances of people believing this are easy:

- When Republicans fail to distinguish between a foreign policy that is realist and aggressive and one that is liberalist and aggressive, or think that an aggressive realist has more in common with an aggressive liberalist than a cautious realist. They assume that willingness to show strength is the first and last matter of foreign policy, all others deriving from this one litmus test. Hannity is especially annoying in his ignorance here. There's a hell of a lot more to foreign policy than being tough.

- People who fail to distinguish between aggressive politics and principled politics. Simply opposing the other side and advancing your side is not smart politics or principled politics. It's just opposition. Opposing them based on some principle - and offering a clear, reasonable, attractive alternative - is smart politics and principled politics. A lot of people think their favored political party ought to "sitck it to" the opposing party.

- Democrats who have convinced themselves that their party was built on adherence to left-wing values, and not just a shopping list of subsidies and protections for various demographic and economic groups. They think that if they just present more and more arguments for more extreme versions of their current platform that people will HAVE to see the principle, because it's extreme. That's absurd. People voted Democrat to get a law or money passed fopr their favored group - unions, racial minorities, certain immigrant groups, certain religious minorities, the South, etc. They won't respond to extreme and view it as principled - and they weren't even signing on for principle in the first place.

It's very annoying to hear people assume that DOING MORE is going to fix everything. Problem with schools? More money! More teachers! More desks! More computers! Obviously a 30-stall bathroom and seven multimedia labs will teach these kids how to do basic division!

Problems in the Iraq war? More troops! More guns! More bombs! More patrols! All we have to do is MORE and that will fix everything!

Problem with terrorism? Clearly we don't need any hint of structural changes or strategic visions, just more cops, more firefighters, more spies, more soldiers, more boats, more government, more laws and more subsidies.

Moronic, uncreative, uni-linear thinking is such a pet peeve of mine. This, by the way, is why I separate myself from the Republican Party and why I really dislike so many, many, many, MANY Democrats.

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