A Voice of Reason: Sane Views for a Crazy World

March 6, 2007

A Momentary Lapse of Reason – It Must be Easy to be an Ideologue

I apologize in advance for this momentary lapse of reason.

Okay, I admit it, I’m a Centrist.   Well, probably a bit Centrist on social issues, mixed with truly uncomfortable feelings about abortion, and pretty Hawkish.  Sometimes I just wish I could be an Ideologue.  You see the problem with being a Centrist is that you think you know where you are going then you get sideswiped by the loony Left or the rabid Right.  It gets pretty zany in this expressway of thought and ideas and sometimes you just have to be what you are.  The other problem with being a Centrist is that it can often be mistaken, or cause indifference.  Dante wrote, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.”

So, I confess, in some areas I’m an out and out Lib.  Shocks you eh?  My wife finds that part of me…well she digs it.  She likes that I can get all mushy when I read a report or a case study about some issues in the inner city.  She likes that part of me much more than the John Wayne side.  However, she’s from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, so what do you expect.  However, this is not totally honest of me, because one of the politicians I admire the most is Robert Kennedy.  I find his last speech truly an inspiration, and many times draw strength from his words.

“I think we can end the divisions within the United States. What I think is quite clear is that we can work together in the last analysis. And that what has been going on with the United States over the period of that last three years, the divisions, the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions- whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the more affluent, or between age groups, or in the war in Vietnam – that we can work together. We are a great country, and unselfish country and a compassionate country. “

If you get a wee bit emotional about these words, trust me, you’re a lib.

The heck with that, I’m a Conservative Darn Nabbit.  I love Alexander Hamilton, and feel that his view of America is superior to that girly man Thomas Jefferson.  I want to go to sleep reading “The Conscience of a Conservative” and sleep in that idyllic world where people can pull themselves up by their bootstraps without help from the government.  Where one person makes his mark and changes things, and goes from rags to riches on the merits of his own efforts and ideas.  Then I want to watch Armageddon.  Because, I’m going to get misty now, as I do when I watch that movie, sniff, and Bruce Willis, sniff, sniff, decides to go back to that asteroid, near hysteria here, and won’t let his future son in law, running for more Kleenex, stay behind and blow up the asteroid with the nuclear device.  Then, wailing and pulling out my hair by this time, he says goodbye to his daughter.  And boom….bright lights….oh no…such a sacrifice.  Chicks and Libs, especially lib chicks, like my wife, “just don’t get that movie”.  And if you like that movie, you’re a red blooded American Conservative.

So, where does this pulling forces, the Kennedyesque side (talk about delusions of grandeur) and the John Wayne/Bruce Willis/Alexander Hamilton – hmm more Conservative sides to me, I guess I am a bit more Conservative than I thought, but I digress, make me lie on the political issue spectrum.  Usually flat in the middle, getting sideswiped by Conservative nimrods in their gas guzzling SUV’s, and I really DON’T like SUV’s or their drivers, but that will wait until another momentary lapse of reason, or Barbara Streisand shreiking banshees in their oversized minivan’s, and ladies you drive like your lunatics, and when I see you talking on your cell phone, or that obsequious,  “My Child is an Honor’s Student at Liberal Middle School” I want to see your minivan flip over and blow up in a ball of flame.  All of this while I drive my girlie man Hyundai Accent, and trust me if you’ve ever seen a 6′ and…husky guy in a little Hyundai Accent, it is a funny sight indeed, but at least I care about getting good gas mileage (liberal sniff included) and besides, if the fan belt breaks I can use a rubber band.  Where was I?

Now, you may wonder where the heck is this myopic diatribe – that hopefully some of you will read and comment upon – going, and it will get there in my good time – a big smile, a pause, a few lithium pills – when I’m ready to sum up.

Centrism comes about by dealing with divergent views and filtering out the garbage from both sides of the heated rhetoric.  It is something that is as simple and profound as the Hegellian Dialect that thesis and anti-thesis need to go through that prism called the mind and become synthesis.  In many ways, this is the process that Democracy goes through.  Americans don’t like ideologues too much, and democracy is the politics of the half loaf.  It is inefficient, takes too long to bring about meaningful change, and is the most wonderful blessing that the Almighty has bestowed upon man, the concept of self-government, and an understanding that the State rests upon the authority of the people.  Ideologues just don’t get that, much like my wife and Armageddon.  However, the extreme voices are needed.  They add to the dialogue and push the envelop either way toward the left or towards the right.  After adjustment a new Centrist position is formed, and just when I get comfortable in drving in that center lane another inconsiderate pig in an SUV or a mindless twit on her cellphone in a mini van is going to make my little Hyundai nearly change lanes without me even touching the steering wheel.

Thus ends this momentary lapse of reason.   We will return to our regularly schedule blogposts of rational ideas.  Normally, I edit my posts.  I’m not changing one word of this one.



  1. Interesting post. I find the very tired stereotypes of liberals as girly elitist snobs and conservatives as the very stuff of grunt and muscle to be equally noxious. There is far more sniffing to be found in Bush’s view of health care than in Gore pointing out what gas guzzling is doing to the arctic. (In fact, can you find any sniffing in the latter?).

    Not that this leaves centrism out. If johnny leftist says 2+2 is 6, and sally rightly says 2+2 is 4, the answer is never 5! In other words, what is it about the idea of centrism that implies reason and correctness? It sounds as if one might simply say one’s positions lean to the left or right as appropriate (or in no way at all). To me, centrism heavily suggests compromise between two points as a goal to be pursued for it’s own merit.

    All this being said, if you could provide a practical example of Hegellian Dialect producing a synthesis out of truly divergent political thesis, that would be quite the treat.

    Comment by fitnessfortheoccasion — March 6, 2007 @ 4:40 am | Reply

  2. The Constitution is a good example. The way that the Big States wanted to have political influence based upon population centers, and how the regional states wanted to come up with a method to make sure their parochial interests were not overrun by the large population centers. The result, Congress is a bi-cameral house, with Representatives chosen based on population and Senators on the basis of statehood.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 6, 2007 @ 4:49 am | Reply

  3. A comment that REALLY caught my ear that the President made, was his goal was to combine the optimisims of Bobby Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. I think an arguement can be promoted that NCLB and the Bush Medicare plan do that in many ways. I also have a feeling that he will do the same with the illegal alien issue. Honestly, he should do what he feels is correct, and promote through Congress, despite the ideologues of both parties, legislation that he as the chief executive of the nation feels in his gut is correct. Despite his low popularity, and remember it was once at 90%, Americans elect executives to lead, not follow government.

    John F. Kennedy understood this, and said in the end you can’t be an executive purely by consensus. There are times for synthesis, and to be candid I don’t have a problem with diffusion of Reagan and Bobby Kennedy. In my opinion they are two of the better politicians America has ever had, and tragically, we’ll never know what type of executive Robert Kennedy would have been. He and his brother are two of the greatest “What ifs” of the 20th century.

    So, you gave one example and I’ve added another.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 6, 2007 @ 5:11 am | Reply

  4. If johnny leftist says 2+2 is 6, and sally rightly says 2+2 is 4, the answer is never 5!

    You are correct, if you believe that in politics there are absolutes. Politics is a process, and results in policy. Rarely do any of the absolutes come out fully as they were drafted in theory. More often than not 2 + 2 ends up equaling 73,381.

    This is part of the muddle of Democracy, and what a wonderful muddle it is. More important, consider the option of absolutism.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 6, 2007 @ 6:01 am | Reply

  5. “his view of America is superior to that girly man Thomas Jefferson”

    LOL. Can’t wait to share that with my 8th grade daughter. She was talking about Presidents and said she didn’t like Jefferson.

    Great post. I don’t think of “centrist” as compromising or wimpy as long as it is derived from an issue by issue analysis. I think the root motivation of libs and conservatives can often be the same – i.e., we care about the poor. The difference is how we think it is best to solve the problems.

    Unfortunately, the different approaches to problem solving end up getting viewed as the root motivations. Some conservatives may not care about the poor and some liberals just want to use the poor to advance their careers and agenda, but my guess is that most people on both sides really do care.

    Comment by Neil — March 6, 2007 @ 2:23 pm | Reply

  6. The two houses of congress are a nifty example. I don’t think Bush’s position on anything Healthcare related could be stretched in such a fashion. Sometimes a thesis can wear the skin of it’s antithesis to appear as a synthesis.

    Onto the johnny leftist math example, I don’t think it is a matter of absolutes or not. Do you reject the notion of any position ever being correct? Is fact entirely to be negotiated? If we can start with the idea that there is some notion of truth out there, and that policies which react appropriately to this truth are desirable (where they can be determined), then one can imagine as many situations where 2+2 ends up at 4 as 2+2 ends up at 73,381. In other words, the middle has no intrinsic value, even if for some (or many!) issues the middle position is the correct position.

    Comment by fitnessfortheoccasion — March 7, 2007 @ 3:07 am | Reply

  7. Usually the side that has more clout tends to get the synthesis yielded in their favor. This makes Democracy the politics of incremental gains.

    With regard to any position every being correct, I think that there are some, not many moral absolutes, but people are always fallible vessels of morality. I can say as an example, that lies are never morally justified, and construct an argument which is rational. That doesn’t mean I never lie, nor does it mean that absolute truth, the moral position is always applied.

    Politics are basically ideas, and inherently ideas are niether good nor evil, they are just ideas. They may come from a framework of morality or immorality, but typically speaking they they are usually based on pragmatism. An example may be how to solve certain crimes. Some would argue for a clamping down on the crime, and others would argue for lightening up, even to the point of decriminalization. Each of these come from an ideological compass point, but to say that one is moral and the other immoral is a bit of a stretch. Perhaps which one makes more sense to the current situation, hmmm… situational ethics, is the remedy to be replied.

    Pragmatism is not always a vice, and sometimes ideology and moral outrage is appropriate. Two antithetical views, often can be applied by the same person within different contexts. I guess that is politics.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 7, 2007 @ 3:37 am | Reply

  8. If ideas existed in a vacuum, surely. But ideas have consequences, and therein lies the rub.

    Crime is an interesting case in point. Two positions immediately jump out, namely punishment vs rehabilitation (rather than leniency vs clamping down). It could be presented as two answers to two questions.
    Should criminals have to pay for their actions (Hell YES vs Doesn’t Matter)
    What is the best way to prevent crime (Punishment and the Fear of Punishment vs Rehabilitation, Preparing criminals to become citizens).

    There could be some really interesting synthesis here. Perhaps finding a way for punishment to function as rehabilitation?

    In any case, pragmatism certainly is not a vice (although it might be somewhat opposed to the idealism implied by viewing ideas as neutral).
    But I’d say pragmatism for the sake of pragmatism is.

    Comment by fitnessfortheoccasion — March 7, 2007 @ 4:29 am | Reply

  9. Anything run to its extreme is potentially dangerous. Extreme pragmatism would be Machivellian.

    One area that I think would be worthy of empirical research is crime/punishment in some of the Scandanavian states, which have a different systemic approach than our system of justice, yet have exceptionally low recitivism. However, there view would be seen as very liberal even by liberals. This is why it should just be a study, to understand why their system works for them, and see what inferences can be drawn for our own society.

    Comment by avoiceofreason — March 7, 2007 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

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