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Monday, August 15, 2022

The usefulness of extremes

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I am firm believer that balance is understood between extremes. We don’t know what balance is, unless we have two extremes to compare it by.  I am typically leery of individuals, political parties, and organizations that call themselves taking a “balanced approach,” or a “centrist position” on a matter, and yet, cannot clearly demonstrate or articulate what the extremes are.  I wonder about the motivations of those who take a “balanced or centrist approach” on a matter. Particularly, those who cannot speak to what the extremes are.

Earlier this month, I viewed the Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House,” a film about four progressive Democratic candidates who challenged establishment Democratic candidates in their run-up to the 2018 U.S. Congressional midterm elections. This documentary captured the need for extreme positions and people in the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is generally lukewarm and finds itself at the mercy of an opposing party, which has clearly taken extreme positions and actions that has America, indeed the entire world, on notice that it is serious about the direction they think is best for the country. The middle of the road, balanced approach doesn’t appear to be working out so well for the Democratic Party, unfortunately this party still appears to be tone deaf.  

I appreciate the “extreme” positions and agenda that U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is advancing. Doing so could bring some balance to the political landscape, discourse and lived experience in America.  

Another group that has gained a lot of political attention and has no political party loyalty per se, but has taken an extreme position with the potential of their vote is the group African Descendants of Slavery (ADOS). One of their positions is that any candidate that cannot demonstrate and articulate a Black political agenda, which includes reparations, in their political platform will not get their vote. It appears that the “lesser of two evils” lukewarm approach is unsatisfactory for this group.  

America is in extreme times, and the times call for extremely bold ideas, people and policies that will balance out our politics and ultimately the lived experience in this country. Those who propose coming into this election season with a centrist agenda or “balanced approach,” should be challenged and even potentially rejected. One of the messages typically nestled into the “balanced approach” is wisdom and experience. The idea that a middle-of-the-road approach comes with the wisdom and experience to get things achieved that is best for everyone. 

American politics require extremes to recalibrate toward balance! 

We are at a point in this country where balance has to be discovered. Many things are being renegotiated culturally, socially and politically. Extremes can help us establish a point of reference for what and where “balance” is in this country.

Hot, cold or lukewarm? 

John W. Anderson Jr. is a doctoral student and a lecturer of sociology at Ball State University.

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