Have you ever taken a jigsaw puzzle down from the closet on a rainy day and worked on its 1,000 pieces to completion? Ever stare at the puzzle that you have worked on for hours, only to find it is missing one important piece right in the middle of the puzzle? That missing puzzle piece might tempt you to insanity, first looking incessantly around the table, and then in the box, and in the closet where you kept the box, and in the garage where you originally stored the box before putting it the closet prior to bringing it out one rainy afternoon to spend hours working on the puzzle before realizing that one piece was missing!
To many, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements are frustrating puzzles with missing pieces. Some aggravatingly wonder why the Tea Party holds to their pledge of less government spending and taxes and why they are so willing to let America lunge over the cliff like a herd of possessed swine as they hold fast to their quest. It leads many to believe that Tea Partiers are just right wing ideologues blindly doing the bidding of globalist capitalists. Others question why Occupy Wall Streeters kept fluttering their fingers in free form street democracy even after authorities shut down their camps. They sensed that Occupiers were whiny idealists disrupting Middle America, following like sheep the directives of international Anarchists and Marxists who intend to destroy the capitalist foundations of America.
Many in America view these movements as extremist. But letting reality drift for a moment, what we found that these movements were actually Centrists and that America was the extreme one? If America were extreme, then under this remote scenario at least one of these two groups could actually be Centrist. If that were so, and if America could be tolerant for a moment, we might find that these movements were not irritating puzzles with missing pieces after all. We might conclude that they were truly two of the missing puzzle pieces that we are seeking in the midst of crisis, and that they were actually patriots trying to cajole America back to Centrism.
But many Americans don’t trust at least one of these movements for good reason. Those aggravated by the Tea Party surmise that it has accepted, as part of its platform, a globalist agenda that obfuscates itself in a cloak of Patriotism. Globalists solder Constitutional words like freedom onto words like trade so that the resulting power of the phrase “free trade” confuses America from a more prosperous course. Those annoyed by the Occupiers surmise that the Occupiers are influenced by Marxists who blame capitalism for harming America instead of the abuse of capitalism that has actually done the damage. However, if America paused for a moment to see that both movements were growing beyond their Globalist and Marxist roots, could we not find that they both have salient messages that could help turn-around America’s drifting course?
For the moment, let’s assume that both Occupy Wall Streeters and the Tea Party are solidly Centrist. Each appears extreme to some in America, so that is a difficult assumption. But if we suppose that America has indeed veered into extreme territory then we could imagine that they appear extreme because of America’s drift. Suppose that the bell curve of Western culture has shifted so far from true Centrism that America now stands on shifting sands of extreme change. If this were true, then America could perceive these two movements that might be chanting their centrist warnings from the terra firma, as if they are extremists spouting extremities, when in actuality they are not. If this were true, then America’s perception of itself being Centrist could also be quite extreme.
The following example might shed light on the pretense that America could already be extreme. As housing prices skyrocketed during the first half of the decade, their relative prices compared similarly. As prices shot into the stratosphere like a runaway freight train, mid priced homes continued to price in the middle of the mayhem, perhaps Centrist if you will. We now know however that what appeared as moderately Centrist home prices were actually quite radically priced.
Yet, while many Americans entered the house flipping craze, a few held steady mortgages for years. They did not refinance to meet material wants and they lived within their long term means. Many at the time viewed their peculiar steadfastness as ultra conservative. Yet we now know that they were only conservative through the lens of America’s momentary lapse of judgment. They were in fact true Centrists by historical terra firma standards.
If one example of misinterpreted centrism exists, might there be others? When a tsunami slams the shore, it forever rips the landscape from its modest history into a extreme future. The two World Wars of the 20th century that swept 80 million people off the face of the earth was a social tsunami. In its deadly wake, America produced Boomer Babies that disrupted the balance of everything in their path. Some would say that this Baby Boom tsunami swept America’s culture to extremes in unobservable slow motion, except to those who deliberately paused to reflect how Boomers ripped the world from its foundation.
If the two Great War tsunamis that destroyed 80 million souls and the subsequent tidal wave of Baby Boomers did in fact violently sweep America off its centrist foundation, perhaps the view from our shifted reality is now not Centrist at all, but instead radical. We tend to think of progress as forward motion. Any reversion of progress to a former era is viewed as radical. However, if we are really already radical, then placing America’s path back on the centrist foundation it would have had been on if not for our Baby Boomer tsunami should not be labeled as a radical reversion but rather as a righting of our true Centrist progression.
History shows that America did not return to our stable, pre-WWII Centrist path after the war. In fact, an objective examination of history would show that our entire generation embarked on a path that could in objective hindsight only be labeled as extremist, whether observed through the prism of either the conservatives or the progressives. If we are to find a way back to a growing and secure future in America, it is now time to honestly reflect on our history. That reflection might conclude that America did get caught up in a tsunami of extremism.
Our first post-war extremist thrust by both conservatives and progressives was to barrel down the path of building a military greater than all other nations combined. After WWII, America determined that an overwhelming military, more powerful than had ever existed before, was the correct measured response to the 20th century’s industrial unleashing of mankind’s destructive nature that had twice swarmed its deadly will. Our obsession with military superiority imbedded itself into our culture of defense and created a partially planned economy in America centered on our military complex. In the process of creating this modern dynasty of protection, our collective extremism sacrificed our economy to stave off the inevitability of man’s destruction.
We then recklessly spent our children’s future hoping not only to prevent the war that might otherwise end humanity, but also hoping to end poverty and oppression. After decades of budget increases, we were able to provide our poor with material consumption that made them wealthier than 85 percent of the rest of the world, but at what cost? Our national debt is now over 100 percent of our GDP. A centrist review of America’s deficit spending would have to conclude that we have not been Centrist in our spending.
Our extremism was not confined to the military and the Great Society. Baby Boomers also naively lived in the moment without securing our retirement. We now have a crisis over the empty coffers of Social Security and Medicare but we knew for decades it would come because America’s Baby Boomer generation chose not to save even knowing doing so would end in crisis. Was it not extremist to plan to bankrupt our children, forcing them to enjoy only half of our materialism so that we could consume half of their future? This extremist denial of responsibility to pay for our own military and Great Society excesses glaringly contradicted our perception that we were centrist champions of social equity.
Our generation spent our children’s’ future to extend the great society, to stave off Armageddon, and to enjoy the fruits of our parent’s frugality. Having forsaken our foundation of Centrism by indenturing future generations to pay for our excesses, how could we judge others who found it acceptable to gut America of jobs and factories, or who built banking Ponzis that indebted Americans to feed our capital to China. Who were we to judge when the Federal Reserve shook down other nations to fund our excesses or when the two reigning parties of Congress sold their souls to secure continuing re-elections.
With such moral ambiguity, we became trapped in relativism. Our nation was then unchained from any semblance of fiscal restraint and was free to drift toward a new norm of extremism, one in which we could argue amongst each other the relative turpitude of our choices while at the same time viewing our own progressive or conservative ideas as Centrist. In this drift toward a conscious denial of extremism, there were too few of our generation that publicly warned America for having been as extreme as posterity will most undoubtedly judge us to have been.
Finally in desperation, Tea Partiers exclaimed that this nation had drifted so far from its original moorings that they had to stand up to America’s extremism. Aghast, America bemoaned this movement’s presumption of claiming they were the purveyors of True North. Yet, if America has drifted into extremism, then the Tea Partiers actually were most clearly viewing our danger, and should be regarded as heroes for having identified our nation’s drift before it destroyed us.
Some claim that the Tea Party’s adoption of Globalist ideas has kept it from winning over America to reverse our joblessness, a symptom of our excess. Even though their keen observation of our extremist drift did help to fight the expansion of our extreme Federal budget deficit, it did not give them the ability to see all excesses and to find a way to bring America back fully to Centrism. As such, the Wall Street Occupiers have emerged to help identify a possible course correction, and I suspect other movements will emerge as well.
America is annoyed by these two movements’ persistence, almost like an alcoholic would be annoyed by an intervention. Yet intolerantly scapegoating these movements will not change the fact that we are floating on debris of relative progress. However, if our entire Baby Boomer generation is “the bubble” and all of these economic bubbles that were and that are unfortunately imminently yet to come, are just exacerbations of our true bubble, then our Baby Boomer bubble must, as all bubbles do, return to its point of trend origin so that the world can begin again its balanced progression.
We can continue to argue in the extreme that housing prices should remain high but they will not. We can argue in the extreme that the stock market should stay inflated but it will return to its historical trend. We can argue that our national budget should continue artificially bloated to fund our Baby Boomer experiments of the war on poverty and a military to end all wars but it cannot. A few of our elite will continue to argue that unemployment will have to drift sideways for years to come, but it cannot. Instead America will drift back to what can be funded by the normal and Centrist progression of tomorrow’s workers and we will once again find our Centrist path.
We can continue our disdain for the “extremists” of our country, yet they are the Centrists of True North and we are unfortunately the extremists. To disdain ourselves would be unhealthy and thus we must return to a path of Centrism. Our nation was thrown excessively off course by world events and our Centrist Tea Party pointed out our excesses. Our Centrist Occupiers are searching for a way back to a Centrist capitalist democracy. Can we, having taken this journey of disorientation, now find our way back to true Centrism as well?
Inevitably, we will revert to the world’s centrist progression whether through the relative comfort of a blazoned and enlightened trail of American determination or through the precipitous fall of continued denial leading to economic implosion. However, the sooner we stop pointing fingers at our skewed perception of each other’s extremism and begin pulling our collective weight toward our historic and future Centrist progression, the sooner we will begin our nation’s reorientation to True North and the sooner we can begin our recovery.