Extremism in America
When we declared our independence from England, it was an extreme act. When we responded to England’s rejection with a revolution it was an extreme act. When we moved from the relatively weak Articles of Confederation to a national constitution, it was an extreme act. When we fought a civil war to rid the nation of slavery and to reestablish a union of the states, it was an extreme act.
We fought two world wars, ending one with the extreme act of using atomic weapons to save millions of lives, we took on the extreme challenges of space exploration, we encouraged the development of radical ideas, inventions and discoveries in business and science – all bearing the mark of extreme thinking.
Now we are told that extremism is a bad thing. I would submit to you that it is not; that it is complacency and restraint wherein the danger lies. As Thomas Paine said, “... a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT...”
Our Declaration of Independence offers a similar truth: “... all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
We have, in fact, lived through a period of alarming complacency for many decades now. As a nation, we have allowed the passage of tax laws with sufficient authority to take all we have. We have acquiesced to regulations and control over our businesses, our homes, and our lives, that would have inspired rebellion 200 years ago. We have allowed a government created with minimal intentions to become our largest employer, a vast sea of bureaucracy, and the master of our destiny – not a servant to it.
It is curious to consider some things which have been branded as extreme: a reduction in federal cabinet offices to conform with constitutional authority, and no more; a return of control over the education process to the states, communities and families where it prospered well for over 150 years, but began failing once in the hands of national bureaucrats; any attempt to tamper with institutions such as Social Security and Medicare, despite estimates of a $100 trillion shortfall in current and future obligations; criticism of a war effort that has continued for longer than two world wars combined, without a formal declaration, and with little understanding of its purpose.
Given such ironies, is it perhaps the word itself that is confusing? That used as a tool to marginalize right thinking, labeling someone or something as extreme is merely a cloak for deception. That the proper use of the term is perverted to mean something altogether different from its true meaning.
It isn’t the only term hijacked in such a manner. Consider the word: discrimination. We are taught, and subjected to the enforcement of law, to not discriminate! We are denied the reality that discrimination is simply making a choice. An inherent component of our personal liberty – the freedom to choose – is taken from us, on the basis of a perversion of terminology.
There are those, who would happily deny us the right to discriminate in our choices, OR to use extreme measures when called for. Only THEY can be trusted to make those choices. This kind of thinking is right out of George Orwell’s classic work, 1984. Life has not only imitated art; it has assimilated it.
It is not extremism itself that is a bad thing, it turns out, but rather by whom it is exercised. It is not extreme to pass a 2,700 page health care law, that has not been read, which creates at least 100 new agencies, and in one stroke rejects an entire history of medical practice and procedure in exchange for a host of untried, unproven, pointy-headed concepts developed in the Harvard Business School. It is not extreme because the government and mainstream media say it’s not.
It IS extreme for regular Americans to voice their frustration over government size, taxation, attacks on liberty, and rejection of the Constitution as a collective “Tea Party.” It is extreme because the government and mainstream media say it is.
It’s almost as if we are living in an Alice and Wonderland ... well... tea party, where up is down, left is right, and inside is outside – because the Queen of Hearts prefers it that way.
Enough is enough.
The truth is that extremism is a normal and necessary response to equally radical restraints upon liberty. It matters not whether they are immediate and obvious, or incremental and unobservable for the moment. There is or comes a time when only an extreme response can right a collection of excesses. This is especially true when the perpetrator has insulated itself effectively from both its actions and its responsibilities, as has our American Congress.
Our housing markets are a mess – and yet Congress and its financial minions, “Freddie” and “Fannie,” bear no responsibility. We still depend on foreign sources, including our known enemies, for our energy needs as a result of 40 years of government inaction. Our education system is in the crapper, yet interference by an overreaching federal government is increased, not removed. Taxation has become a tool of tyranny and torture, yet the beltway bandits continue to add to the obscenity rather than abolish and replace it. Our manufacturing capacity has been exported, our financial systems mired in maneuvering, and our small businesses strangled in red tape – yet no one is to blame.
This is the stuff from which extremism is born, and rightly so.
Voices from the past – extreme voices - are both insightful and persuasive in understanding the conundrum we are in:
Thomas Paine: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.”
George Washington: “The thing that separates the American Christian from every other person on earth is the fact that he would rather die on his feet, than live on his knees!”
Thomas Jefferson: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
Howard Beale, the movie precursor to the Tea Party: “I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”
Those who denounce extremism do so out of fear of its success. They claim it operates out of simplicity or violence. It does neither. It does recognize, as Einstein did, that “the solutions to problems should be as simple as possible, but no more.” Why should the dismantling of an unjustified cabinet office or agency be any more complex than its creation? Why is it so difficult to deal with budget excesses by simply rolling back to the last year in which the budget was balanced and current revenue levels and adopt that budget?
Why? Because the entrenched political and bureaucratic interests give legitimacy to their existence by rejecting such simple – and extreme – solutions.
The politically correct elites condemn extremism and celebrate moderation; they mock simplicity and revel in needless complexity. They couldn’t be more wrong. The people are on to them, and this time, they will not go quietly away.
The signing of the Declaration of Independence: an extreme act, and an extreme document, signed by by the first American extremists. Thank God.