Extremism is just another word for…losing the debate
posted by Donna Gratehouse
at 20 February, 9:43 AM 0
So I saw from my Twitter feed that it was an eventful afternoon at the Arizona State Capitol the other day. Lots of bills debated and observers of the Senate Government and Environment Committee were treated a debate over whether sustainability is a communist UN plot or not courtesy of, natch, the Republicans on the committee.
This puts me in mind of something I’ve been meaning to propose to my fellow Dems for a while: Knock it off with labeling every egregious thing the other side does as “extreme”. “Extreme” is getting to be as stale and meaningless as “civility” these days. It’s a squishy, subjective concept that can be appropriated by anyone and lends itself far too easily to the false equivalence. To wit, you (a well-meaning liberal) can rattle off an endless list of conservative politicians and pundits, with extensive examples of frightening rhetoric and policy positions. But the conservatives will always find that one liberal who said something stupid on TV or some obscure professor who hypothesized a radical leftist position that one time and then, bam, it’s “extremism on both sides!” This is complete lopsided nonsense, of course, but the Right gets away with it because (as I’ve pointed out before) the most shockingly bigoted right wing Republican votes pro-corporate 100% of the time and even the most non-threatening moderate Dem sometimes votes against Big Business. There is literally no other explanation for it. If rabid social conservatives were regularly voting against tax cuts and for regulations on businesses, then…well…Rick Santorum would be an unknown former state legislative staffer today, if that.
So invoking “extremism” serves no purpose, really. It only contributes to annoyingly frequent outbreaks of chin-stroking by Very Serious Establishment PeopleTM, who are so very concerned about, yes, you people, and your “extremism on both sides!” I propose we make it harder for both the conservatives and the oblivious elite chin-strokers by using more specific terms. Make them learn some new words and phrases! Such as unscientific, willfully ignorant, callous, unfair, irrational, malevolent etc. Sure, the conservatives will try to appropriate them to their ends, but they won’t have as easy a time as they have had with “extremism”.
The other reason to jettison “extremism” as the go-to descriptor of Republican malfeasance (another word!) is that it is not an accurate reflection of where they are today. Geez, half of their primary voters think Barack Obama wasn’t born in the US! Not to mention the long, sordid laundry list of ludicrous (there’s another word!) positions held by the majority of GOP politicians and their base. They’re not extreme GOP positions, they’re mainstream ones. Calling them “extreme” gives them cool cred they don’t deserve. They’re really just boring followers.