John Geller offered some advice for this column. He said, "Stir things up; this smooth stuff doesn't get it." John, maybe this will do the job.
During his 1964 presidential campaign, Barry Goldwater said "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." While most people could embrace the spirit intended, Goldwater received considerable criticism for the statement. Today, we talk about extremism in the Middle East, but we have our own problem with extremism of a different type here at home: Extremes in politics. The far-left and far-right fringes of both political parties have rendered the legislative process of the federal government helpless.
Persistent efforts on the part of the right have been successful in making liberal a dirty word. If you are talking about those who champion every creature and do-gooder cause, who want to regulate everything, who have little regard for the military or the free enterprise system and who are fiscally irresponsible, such a label is warranted. But the far right of the conservative camp deserves equal billing. This year, political observers have noted that the percentage of far-right conservatives is far greater than that of far-left liberals. Often they are one-issue candidates. Many are blatantly anti-government except when it comes to national defense and protecting their own interests. Some have little regard for working people. For them, there should be no minimum wage for workers, but no limit on excess profits, executive salaries or bonuses. It's not unusual to label fair and accurate reporting as being slanted. They would de-regulate virtually everything except labor unions and political contributions.
Rest assured in our complex society government regulations are here to stay. We have seen too many examples of bad things happening in the absence of regulations. The question is not whether to regulate or not to regulate but to be reasonable. This requires compromise. For far too many on both sides of the aisle, compromise is a no-no. In recent elections, the conservatives have defeated respected veteran leaders of their party who dared to compromise on pressing issues facing the nation. For them, it's my way or the highway.
Individuals who stick to their convictions are to be admired. Elements of virtue are to be found in both the far right and the far left, but for a democratic society to function, compromise is necessary. The structure of our government is a product of compromise. During both Democrat and Republican administrations of the past, our leaders have managed to find common ground. Today, some of our leaders are so set in their ideology that they don't look for common ground. Pressing problems facing our nation continue to be ignored.
While this article was submitted to the paper before the election, in my judgment, the extreme left or right fringes do not represent the majority of either party.
Page 2 of 2 - As our representatives return to Washington, my hope is that a more moderate tone will prevail on both sides of the aisle. We need more moderation and less extremism.
Roy Shaver writes a weekly column for the Daily News.