THE NEW POLITICS OF EXTREMISM

Gone are the days when our government was represented by individuals who believed in pragmatism and compromise. Our parents and grandparents, those who grew up during the Great Depression and who fought during World War II, were honed and shaped by their common experiences. They shared fox holes together. They came home for the most part determined to prevent future depressions and make sure that another world war did not occur. They were patriotic and wanted the best for society and their country. They put their nation first and not their political party.

Welcome to the day when extremism rules the day. Ideology has trumped policy and we the people are the victims of this new political reality. Extremism used to set the boundaries on each side of the political spectrum. Now extremism is the norm. Both political parties have contributed to our political dysfunction, but only one is primarily responsible, the Republican Party.

Two things have occurred, one being that the Republican Party refuses to let anything pass Congress that might be construed to help the Democratic Party politically. Second, they are determined to reverse decades of social and economic progress and policy by using any tactic at their disposal.

Several times we have seen Republican Senators promote a resolution or a bill until President Obama supported it and then they were against it. Public confidence in our institutions is at an all-time low. Voter turnout in the 2014 election was dismal. We are an increasingly polarized nation, with pessimism rampant with the voters understandably lacking in any confidence that their vote will make a difference.

A curious phenomenon is taking place. The voter is becoming part of the problem. They help the level of discontent continue by expecting that replacing incumbents with people who are not going to compromise or be pragmatic will somehow work. It is a knee jerk reaction instead of blaming the actual representatives who have made obstructionism work so well, they blame all incumbents. By electing people who do not believe in government the level of dysfunctionality is bound to get worse.

Many of the newly elected Republicans are libertarian. Libertarianism is defined as” a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principle objective-It seeks to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association and the primary of individual judgment.” They want as much liberty as possible and as little government as necessary. But in what appears on the surface to be a contradiction, they are now seeking office so that they can dismantle government and leave it to its barest necessities. They believe in the concept of self-government. Our current strain of libertarian elected is using the threat of the shutdown of government on an annual basis. Instead of a rule of the majority we have been left with governing by extortion. A libertarian’s views are antithetical to the rule of the majority and to democracy. It can only lead to anarchy.

Now we are nearly 2 years removed from when this essay was written and we are experiencing the consequences of years of gridlock. The public is increasingly frustrated by the failure of government to come to grips with the problems that we face. The voters are lashing out against the establishment. The voters rejected all of the establishment candidates.

The Republican Party establishment is now experiencing what years of extremism have brought. Six years have passed since the Republican Party has controlled 2 chambers of Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States. Has the Republican establishment answered in any way the anger of their constituents? It is the do nothing Congress.

So as the direct result of this fact, we have the voters of the Republican Party nominate an outsider to the political process to express their anger and frustration. Donald Trump is an imperfect messenger through which this anger is being expressed.

Now we see what years of gridlock have brought us. We now have the ultimate extremist, where there is no bounds of reason to temper his outlandish and extreme thoughts. If you could draw a picture of a candidate who is the picture of extremism he, Donald J. Trump is that candidate. And guess what, his supporters do not care how extreme he is? He has even said that he could go out on Madison avenue and shoot someone and he would still have their support.

Pundits wring their hands in confusion trying to understand the Donald, to no effect. He can be as extreme as he wants to be. Why because he is their outsider! He has no connection to the system of government that has failed them. He can rant and rave about how Mexicans are rapists and criminals. He can tell his followers that the answer to their frustration of having people in this country illegally is to build a wall and he gets a chorus of cheers.He can rant against the press and point to them in the audience and say they are the ones to blame and get thunderous applause. He can play to their sense of fear and insecurity about ISIS by assuring them that they will be safe if only we do not allow anyone into our country who is Muslim. They feel a sense of safety and order because of this insane promise.

The voters who support Donald Trump believe in their heart that he has their back. This is what you have when no one is really hearing the anger and frustration of so many voters who justifiably feel insecure and angry. This is what you get America when political leaders fail to hear their constituents and fail to do their duty as public servants by responding to their concerns. What do you get? You get extremism.

In this tale of two Americas, we have one America that is angry and fearful, and the other America that is hopeful for the future. We will find out at the polls in November whether anger or hope is victorious. Our future remains in doubt. No one should doubt that our system of government is in jeopardy due to the extremists among us.

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