Extremism in politics doesn’t allow for serious compromise
July 15, 2009
by Joseph P. Tartaro
Political pundits and bloggers often bemoan the fact that the political gatekeepers of different extremes never seem to come together and compromise for the common good. However, it seems that the extremists of every stripe will never subjugate their positions to the needs of others.
So extreme has our society become that one cannot even kill a pesky fly with offending someone, as President Obama learned recently. People will even abandon lifelong political or personal agendas if it means giving up on something else.
The fly incident popped into high relief in June when the Norfolk, VA-based group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) took issue with the President for killing a White House fly. In fact, one media report was able to call the President “the flyswatter-in-chief.” PETA wants the Presisdent to try taking a more humane attitude the next time he’s bedeviled by a fly in the White House.
PETA, always quick to exploit media exposure as you will note by the last item in this column, is sending Obama a Katcha Bug Humane Bug Catcher, a device that allegedly allows users to trap a house fly and then release it outside. This, of course, will allow the fly to go and pester someone else.
During an interview for CNBC at the White House in early June, a fly intruded on Obama’s conversation with correspondent John Harwood.
“Get out of here,” the President told the pesky insect, on camera. When it didn’t, he waited for the fly to settle, put his hand up and then smacked it dead.
“Now, where were we?” Obama asked Harwood. Then he added: “That was pretty impressive, wasn’t it? I got the sucker.”
Such an incident might seem trivial to some readers, but tiny molehills have a way of growing into mountains in Washington, especially with media attention. But what is clear is that while PETA might be happy with some things Obama does, they won’t cut him any slack over a fly-swatting, and they won’t put their agenda on the back burner.
That’s also very typical of anti-gun extremists, some of who would give up on their desire for representation in Congress so they don’t have to give in on their hatred of private gun ownership.
For example, the District of Columbia’s decades-long quest for a voting member in the US House of Representatives got longer on June 10, because the anti-gunners in Washington think enforcing anti-gun laws is more important that being able to vote in Congress.
That became clear when House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said the bill was on hold indefinitely, conceding that Democratic Party leaders are stymied by an amendment to the measure that would scale back the city’s anti-gun laws.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to move the bill at this time,” the Maryland Democrat told reporters on Capitol Hill, according to The Washington Times.
House Democratic leaders are torn between championing voting rights for the District and fighting a rollback of gun laws backed by the National Rifle Association, which enjoys widespread support from Republicans and conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s non-voting House member, said she agreed with the decision but vowed to continue the fight.
“We will never give up on equal rights for our residents,” she said, insisting that pro-gun Democrats could have opposed the amendment without sustaining political damage.
The amendment by Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) would overturned the city’s gun laws, which are among the toughest gun control measures in the country.
DC Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray said the Ensign amendment was “onerous and dangerous” and not an acceptable trade-off for a voting member in the House.
“We remain hopeful that the right set of circumstances will lead to another opportunity for democracy finally to come to our city,” said Gray, an at-large Democrat.
Critics say giving DC residents a voting representative violates Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution, which states that “representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states.” The District is not a state.
The bill would have provided the solidly Democratic District a House seat and balanced it with an additional seat likely to go to Utah, which is heavily Republican. The Utah seat was included to gain Republican support. The DC and Utah representatives were to be seated at the start of the next session in January 2011.
The legislation sailed out of the Senate in a bipartisan 61-37 vote in February. At the time, Democrats were excited to see the bill survive in any form.
Supporters say Congress has the power to give the District a representative because of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, which states that Congress must “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the District.
Efforts to give the District’s roughly 600,000 residents a voting representative in the House have been rebuffed repeatedly.
The priorities of people like Holmes-Norton and Gray many seem skewed to us, and perhaps to other Americans as well. Anti-gun liberals may be part of what is causing a new shift in the political perspective of Americans.
Conservatives now comprise the largest ideological group in the United States, with nearly twice as many Americans saying they are conservative as those claiming to be liberal, according to a Gallup poll reported on June 15.
Data issued by Gallup was based on 10 separate surveys conducted from January through May, and therefore the margins of error “are quite small,” Gallup maintains.
The surveys found that thus far in 2009, 40% of respondents describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. The rest said they have “no opinion.”
A solid majority of Republicans, 73%, call themselves conservative, 24% are moderate and only 3% are liberal.
Democrats are more equally divided, with 40% saying they are moderate and 38% describing their views as liberal. A surprising 22% of Democrats say they are conservative, Gallup found.
Among independents, 34% are conservative, 20% are liberal and 45% are moderate, according to Gallup.
I couldn’t close out this column without another example of extremism in pursuit of an unpopular agenda which again involves PETA.
It was announced in June that PETA will be featuring the granddaughter of Cuban revolutionary leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara as a highlight of another “revolution”for vegetarianism.
Lydia Guevara will be posing semi-nude in a PETA campaign that tells viewers to “join the vegetarian revolution,” said PETA spokesman Michael McGraw.
The print campaign is expected to debut in October in magazines and posters, launching first in Argentina, where Che Guevara was born. It will then go international.
In the ad (see photo), Lydia Guevara wears camouflage pants, a red beret, and bandoliers of baby carrots while standing with one fist on her hip and the other outstretched.
Che Guevara was a Marxist leader who played a pivotal role in Fidel Castro’s rise to power in Cuba. He was executed in Bolivia in 1967.
Return to Archive Index