DATELINE SEPTEMBER 22, 2003. Manifesto blues. It's a quiet Monday morning after a long hard Sunday of politics akimbo as usual here in Washington DC.
A perfect time for a few audibles of the nickel and dime, pennies won't get it done, flying wedge Rabelaisian armchair quarterbacking. Time to bring out the chains and the chalk to rebuke the butt crack dishonesty and hair-licked phony aggression of the old orders who delight in honoring themselves on the vote-grinding gridiron at the expense of the far greater number of citizens who neither vote for them, nor join their hail mary parties of ideology run amuck.
Let's start by clearly articulating the two questions this website imagines itself eager and keenly shaped to explore. First, cutting to the brutal heart of the political beast, let's ask ourselves to define this summarily dismissed radical middle, or as some prefer, progressive centrist position in American politics. Strategists from both sides of the political divide often describe the huge chunk of independent voters they seek to persuade to their side of the scrimmage line as the "mushy middle" or the "wishy washy" centrists. Isn't that just sweet...
It seems to me that career politicians (and nearly ALL are, in one form or another, nee the lobbying industry) float about in the backfield, saying one thing, then doing another, whining and dining themselves on each other's mistakes, special perks, and class privileges, busily tilting the playing field, first this way, then that, with laws written by THEM (and their friends in feverish industry) for THEM (and their friends in feverish industry), all the while making exquisite excuses for themselves any spare moment when not ceremoniously blaming each other.
To dub the so-called "great unwashed" independent voter mushy or wishy washy is about as vulgar a criticism as the political tongue can muster, clearly revealing their disdain for they cannot take for granted. Except when those finely attired impresarios are calling us sinners and lawbreakers who particpate in foul and soon to be if not already illegal activities and events they would never, or of course, would readily repent of as soon as they are caught. Why would anyone as proud as a politician well-trained in exploiting every weakness of an opponent while flattering them to their face want to sully his record with a vote from these filthy sinners and armchair idiots who can't be bothered to vote unless they every generation or so truly hear a profoundly truthful package with which they can agree, is beyond me - something to do with the innate hypocrisy of the polling booth, I suppose.Have I answered the original question of what exactly is the position of the radical middle? No, I have not. Because I cannot group together millions of people into a single category with a single phrase or page yet when I am only just beginning to understand the quest for honesty in politics myself. When 50% of the qualified electorate refuse to vote for its own leadership, something is wrong with the system. Should we blame the system, or should we blame the self-indulging manipulators of an experimental system which continues to draw millions to its shore every year from farflung places, millions of displaced pilgrims hungering and thirsting for a renewal of life still encouraging in context only to discover that the words they hear and read are far from the practices they find once they get here. America has lost her way.
Thus such is the work that leaves ideological contradictions strewn all around the grounds like so many branches after a wind storm. Whole ideas swap parties rather than become fodder for common sense. Polarization strategy therefore keeps the game clearly in the hands of the political playcallers, the experts, the dreary tin soldiers of representative democracy, and not in the daily lives of individuals who have the guts and responsibility to cherish their constitutional freedoms more than the sudden death polite tomfoolery of political football.
Thus secondly, we must now ask how might one expect this "muddled" independent perspective to impact American policy, both domestic and foreign in the unsuspecting future of a nation birthed on the concept of freedom for all and yet a nation seemingly bent on destroying itself in the polarizing process of excess practiced by those well-to-do's long-accustomed to wearing the threadbare wardrobes of empire, local or otherwise, that is to say, those political rainmakers nested comfortably in the rigeurs of the right and the left.
Ever since I first postulated the term "Radical Middle" as best describing the pinwheel of history I spent decades trying to parse, in the late Nineties, I meant it word for word. The middle. The straight. The honest. The populist tradition resurrected, come back alive to war against the threat of extinction by the fictions of the two extreme political wings who each rest on laurels of figurative idealism and false choices rather than the real observations and primary choices of one's own daily circumstances. Radical, as meaning to "take back" the truth from those who live only to propigate superstitions and the public lie, lining their own pocketbooks the whole way. Those who have warred against observable truth must be defeated. The truth of our condition must be merged with the truth of our aspirations.
The only common ground is the middle ground, the narrow way of personal freedom, personal responsibility, maximized as the liberty of self-abundance. To speak of the American people as a whole entity is to speak, and use political language in a socialist context, as if all Americans are in the same boat, as if this were ever true, despite the mighty words penned by Jefferson in the earliest works of American idealism. Does this socialist context betray our true American porridge of hard work, sowing and reaping, trustworthy stewardship, good neighbors to the end? This socialist context can easily become the tricky and dangerous curve on the crowded highway of rugged individualism. Yet, we cannot ignore this context, nor diminish the contradiction in fettered worn-out political clichés. We must look to history and reality for a hint, then realize a litmus test of our true nature as Americans desiring to remain true to the American ideal.We must look seriously and diligently, searching every crag and corner of our souls for hints. However, I must now defer to other pressing personal matters, and yet shall return to this topic with the urgency of necessity.
For this is the Scenewash Project Manifesto. Or lampshades of a different color.
Dennis Miller for prez, anyone?
Hmm... now that's a serious thought worth a few strokes on the keyboard, just for kicks. Not that I've heard anything of the sort brewing in the circles of no return. But since Arnold's loopy campaign has silenced no one concerning the impossible dream, would the obligatory pressures, courtesy of the media jackels and political bandits clamouring for blood be too much for even this obstentatiously bright fellow, originally from Pittsburgh?
I mean, step aside Arnold Swartzennegger, Henry Rollins and Jello Biafra. What with this new Robin Williams movieMAN OF THE YEARabout a late-night political talk show host running and winning the American presidency due out soon, this phenonmenon may very well become our future, and its name is Dennis Miller. Remember, who said it first.
This article is an automated repost from the Project Scenewash archives. Originally posted on September 22, 2003.