American extremism: In a bad economy, we make it worse by taking sides.

November 25, 2011

Either way you lose…

Most people (myself included) would like to think they’re open-minded and subsequently put off by those who are not: the arrogant, the dogmatic and the righteous. Those people are the reason our world is so challenged. Those are the ones bringing us down. And, of course, “those people” feel the same way about us.

Them and us are polar opposites. Two distinct sides: liberal & conservative, democrat & republican, right & left. The euphemisms are many. In good times these dichotomies serve like checks and balances, mitigating extremism, keeping society on the beam.

Alas, these are not good times. Righteous anger is overtaking civil discourse. The Occupiers demonize the rich. The 1% shuns the poor. Our President hates America! The GOP candidates are a bunch of idiots! Build a wall around the country! Let everyone in!


I need pause from it all. As a person who fancies himself open minded, I resent being pushed to one extreme or the other. I don’t want to take a side and live or die by it. Why must I choose between Capitalism and Socialism? (If I must, I choose the former. Who, in this country wouldn’t, especially those of us in advertising?) Yet, both ideas are as flawed by extremism as they are brilliant in their idealism.

And speaking of “isms” aren’t they all dangerous?

Take alcoholism. Recovery from this cunning and baffling disease suggests alcoholics practice accepting other people’s defects so that they might diminish their own. “Easy does it” and “One day at a time” are the well-known catch phrases of Alcoholics Anonymous. Resentments of any kind are considered detrimental to recovery.

Wisdom from a church basement…

And so I worry about America’s growing extremism. A program of recovery suggests we “let go of old ideas” even as our politicians become evermore paralyzed by theirs. The holidays are upon us. That means discourse. And next year begins the real Presidential campaign. That means debate. Before taking up sides, I urge each of US to be more accepting of THEM, and vise versa.


4 Responses to “American extremism: In a bad economy, we make it worse by taking sides.”

  1. ironthe said

    I would have to say that this post is very un-American. We must choose sides, this is class warfare, and when does innocent Switzerland ever get a say in anything. If you want really progress in the United States you must push your agenda and stand by it without fail!

    • SRP said

      Respectfully disagree. If we all “chose an agenda w/out fail” chaos would erupt. Poor would riot. Rich would beseech military to fight back. By definition the “middle class” would, once again, be caught in the crossfire.

  2. jim schmidt said

    We’ve become a nation of small-minded bickerers. Very discouraging. America is quickly becoming McCann-Erickson or some other very mediocre ad agency run by lifers who are only concerned about getting their slice of the pie.

    • SRP said

      Some of the bickerers know better. For example, Newt Gingrich is a pretty smart person and so is Hillary Clinton…
      But the more they (and we) advocate extremism the more their (and our) brains calcify. New ideas cannot get in. Gridlock begets frustration begets chaos. Wearying and withering…

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