Monday, January 07, 2008

A Radical Center?

Are you tired of the bickering extremes? Are you tired of seeing the time and resources of the American people—your time and resources—wasted in bitter and inefficient “nothingness”? Well, you are not alone. It seems that a good sizeable portion of the American people in the middle feels the same way.

Judging by the state of the run-ups to the primaries it looks like the American electorate seems to be looking for a candidate who is paying attention to the center.

Candidates who seem to be calling for change from the programmatic talking points and from the pre-determined agendas by pressure groups are doing better in the polls than those who are perceived as extremes.

This doesn’t mean that the American people are expecting politicians not to have principles and beliefs. But in their own daily lives, people know that many problems do not require a full-fledge battle in order to solve them.

On the other hand, some Americans like New York Times firebrand columnist Paul Krugman, think differently and are actually calling for more partisanship (NY Times 12/26/07). He thinks that the reason for the lowest approval ratings of Congress in history is because Democrats are not “partisan” enough.

Others, like Congressman Peter Hoekstra, think the extremes are part of the problem, not the solution, to solving problems which require practical approaches, not ideological debates (GR Press 12/18/07). He thinks that both political parties need to move toward a “radical middle” to start dealing with problems in the country. However, he further goes on saying, when members of both parties try to come together to work on issues they get bashed by the extremes of both parties.

We all have heard that truth always lies in the middle. That may or may not be true itself but one thing is true, there is plenty of evidence of how the extremes have often led us to historical tragedies. From Russia to Spain, and almost most recently in Venezuela, to our own nation, the pages of human history are fraught with civil wars the result of the intransigence, intolerance, selfishness and propaganda wars of the extremes.

Claiming each to have a total grasp and the only possible version of the truth or only correct option in a situation of conflict, the extremes often overlook, sometimes intentionally, the possibility of practical compromise. Each thinks they have a radical understanding of a situation, and understanding of the roots of a problem (true meaning of the word radical), and thus a unique solution. Yet most of the times they are simply standing or looking at it from the limbs of their extreme position and not from the center were the roots truly are.

What Congressman Hoekstra calls “the radical middle”, and I call the radical center, is not and should not be a refuge to avoid taking hard decisions on any subject. It is neither a way to compromise on principles but a way to focus on essentials and on getting things done.

The extremes are minorities but they are loud, vociferous and valuable at bringing attention to issues. Yet most of the time they have become most effective at blocking solutions to the very problems they wish to solve and protest loudly about. American voters need to support those members of their parties who seek in the best of American civic traditions to meet with others in the middle. Even when some, like Mr. Krugman, believe that “That middle ground doesn't exist”.

In a diverse and pluralistic society such as ours, in the middle of an increasingly shrinking world, we must value and keep in mind the heritage of civility of the American Revolution. Congressman Hoekstra has expressed the same frustration that most Americans feel but he has also proposed a challenge in the middle of our civic and political discourse. Let’s welcome it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Amoros
It seems to me that u are not only a very conservative republican but also anti-democrat. Your criticism for democrats is good but follow it with answers and alternatives/solutions. However u run the risk of not being taken seriously once u start sounding so radical. Oh and to be a radical centristis a a complete contradiction. I read your column in the colorful "LA VOZ," for this month. U talk about the democratic party as the establishment that brought us the
"civil rights" slash "welfare politics" as if those were bad things. That's not a smart move.
I wonder sometimes if ure experience as en exile has left u disgruntled more because of ure material losses and status than because of ure love for Cuba. Also I can't help but wonder if this has left u with a bias againt anything that smells remotely of left of center. I value your time and reponse.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good article, It seems to me that most people are either left or right by default and they adopt middle postures while they pause to rethink which direction to go, and fortunately for all of us in that moment of pause is where people are willing to talk and compromises, thanks God!...Once they move to the right or to the left, we miss ed the the opportunity to accommodate each other point of view and seek the right decision is OVER. MODESTO ;-)

11:32 AM  
Blogger José Alejandro Amorós said...

Dear anonymous, thank you for your time and for reading La Voz. In between some personal bile in your lines there are some good questions and issues. Normally, I do not reply to personal vitriol but in this case they are intertwined with some legitimate concerns of yours. First of all, I'm not a "very conservative republican" and much less "anti-democrat". I'm not affiliated to any party. And when I was, I was a Democrat, most of my life. I'm a republican with small "r" and a democrat with small "d", in other words I believe in a representative form of democracy. So as to "answers and alternatives/solutions", any that is based first of all on the individual or associations of individuals, rather than delegated to government is fine with me. As for "'civil rights' slash 'welfare politics' as if those were bad things", my critique is not that they are bad things, but that they were means that became ends to themselves and are now sacred cows which actually do more harm than good.

Second, I'm not a Cuban exile so my love is not for Cuba but for actual, real flesh and bones Cubans because I have been a consistent promoter and defender of human rights. Cubans live under the longest, most repressive and brutal military dictatorship in the history of Latin America.

As for my "material losses and status" I have no idea what you are talking about, unless it is about a stereotype you have.

Third, my "bias against anything that smells remotely of left of center" if any, is based on experience of having been there. The social-moral critique of the left has value and should be heard. I just do not believe in their solutions. But contrary to the left today, I do not believe in excluding "the right" from academia or public discourse as they do. As for me I'm equally excluded by liberals and conservatives. However, today conservatives are more open-minded, while liberals have become dogmatic. I really appreciate you taking the time to read and write.

Read "Obama Making Tracks" it is the longer version of the La Voz article.

12:53 PM  

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