Thursday, April 24, 2014

Purity and paralysis

By Bill Kraus

Let’s hear it for the moderates and the mavericks with their ideas and adaptability. Enough already with the absolutists and extremists and their pat answers.

If the absolutists who are surer of everything than I am of anything were in charge, would they have approved of Democratic Governor Lucey’s tax break for job producing corporations or Republican Governor Dreyfus’s quick and decisive signing of the nation’s first gay rights bill or any of many unpredictable solutions to intractable problems enacted during Governor Thompson’s long reign?

Don’t even ask.

The “Tea Party” (in quotes because it isn’t a party) is predictably, even admirably, frugal. It is also preprogrammed and inflexible on a large collection of questionable social ideas. One of their prominent members has been quoted saying, “Compromise is surrender.”

This position is at one with the generals who fought World War I. Dig a trench and hold to a long series of untenable positions.

Is this the kind of government and country we really want?

I doubt it.

But it is the country we are most likely to get if we continue to elect most of our legislators in extremist-dominated primaries, if we buy into fast and easy solutions to complicated questions, if we base our votes on the blandishments being advanced in the major, expensive media by those with large amounts of money to spend to relieve us of the ability of thinking for ourselves.

The history of this country is a story of imaginative, unpredictable acts from unexpected sources to deal with the long series of crises for which there were no simple responses.

Washington made a collection of very diverse states into a country.

One Roosevelt, with the not inconsiderable help of a vigorous, free press, saved the democracy from the robber barons.

Another Roosevelt’s ideas replaced those of another set of totalitarians who were selling Russia as “an idea that worked.”

Jack Kennedy cut corporate taxes.

Dick Nixon went to China.

Ideas work.

Ideologies paralyze.

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