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Tired of Political Extremism? You Are Not Alone

Yes, the midterm elections are upon us. But let’s not ratchet up the rhetoric. Judi Zirin makes a case for common sense and basic human kindness to prevail.

As I look at all the divisiveness and angry rhetoric around me, I have to share my middle-aged common-sense “momifesto”: I want my daughter respected and safe from attack and my son free of false accusation. I want both to have the opportunity to learn and to do well if they work hard—and I also want their basic human needs like food, shelter, and medical care taken care of if one day things go horribly awry. I want this for everyone’s children. Enough with the blaming and lying and insulting. No more taking extreme positions. Can’t we all be reasonable and look for truth and facts … and act normal again? Suffice it to say, I’m sick of political extremism.

But I just stood in a supermarket parking lot for 10 minutes frantically searching for my car keys … and they were in my hand all along. There is laundry to do, school and health insurance forms to take care of, low carb bagels  to pull out of the oven, and my own mortality to ponder. With a slowing metabolism, back pain, and joints that ache when it rains, who has the energy to fight for justice and civility? I have no time to start a revolution today.

Most of us don’t want wild posturing and politicking and self-interested tactics: We just want to be happy, safe, and healthy and to be good to others.

I do strongly believe that nobody’s child should be shot on the streets, by the police or by anyone else. Nor in their homes. Nor in their classrooms.  If you can justify children not only being separated from their parents but kept in camps, possibly sexually or physically assaulted … you are more than an extremist, but rather a kind of a soulless shell of a human being.

I think Congress should represent and look like all of the people I see around me and that nobody in the White House should profess a love of dictators and attack reporters and bully and mock. I want better than that, and I want to feel safer. I think I’m the norm here (except on the height/weight charts but that’s another story). Most of us don’t want wild posturing and politicking and self-interested tactics: We just want to be happy, safe, and healthy and to be good to others … and to be left alone by politicians and extremists. But it’s hard to shout over all of the noise, and we are getting tired.

Sick of Political Extremism: Counting Our Common Bonds

Nobody I know wants racism and sexism and white supremacist alt-right nonsense … nor hyper-focus on nuances of offense to the point we obsess about everything we say or wear or cook. We all, together, worry about terminal illness, calories, thinning hair, wrinkles, joblessness, whether there really is a cloud and where it is, ultra-soft vs ultra-strong toilet paper, how to pronounce quinoa, hurricanes, climate change—both in the world and in the hot flashes of our own bodies—and how to solve both world hunger and the 3:00 p.m. chocolate urge. That’s called unity.

Republican, Democrat … whatever: We are all ultimately on the same side. Accidents, strokes, ALS … we are all temporarily abled and may wind up more catastrophically dependent than we ever anticipate. Lives can change in a New York minute: A plane flying into a tower or some accident of fate can throw the world off its axis. Again. Nuclear or biological warfare, cyberattacks on the electric grid or banking systems or water systems? These don’t discriminate.

Republican, Democrat … whatever. We are all ultimately on the same side.

As my friends get cancer and lose parents, I wonder if I’ll be next and which it will be. I worry whether I’m going overboard when I surf the internet for cute Kevlar backpacks and hoodies in response to the latest school shooting. Then there’s bullying, depression, college admission and cost. There are leaders behaving badly, government and political parties gone awry. The Supreme Court? It’s just more to worry about, more that I feel increasingly helpless against. These days, we aren’t pulling out joints at a party and raging against “the man.”, We’re comparing CBD balms and finding “the guy”: the knee guy, the colonoscopy guy, the root-canal guy (“the guy” is, of course, often a woman).

In Praise of Moms and Normalcy

Sometimes I daydream about a regular mom in the White House. She’ll know how to solve debt and budget crises.

Sometimes I daydream about a regular mom in the White House. She’ll know how to solve debt and budget crises (you won’t believe how cheap it was! No really, guess …). Her poker face is borne of smiling in painful heels and her efficiency from carrying 12 heavy grocery bags in one wrist-spraining trip. She’s honed her multitasking skills by  making a last-minute science-fair project with one hand and lunch with the other while on the phone with both an exterminator and an orthodontist. Moms can get warring parties to agree across an aisle like twins sharing a sandwich (one cuts, one chooses). And after childbirth, toddlerdom, and the six months before a daughter gets her period,  nothing can scare her. And anyone attempting to blackmail her had better get back to their own country before she gets to one … two … three.

Meanwhile, the real revolution is happening now, and it only takes an hour or two to participate. We can make change by voting in some smart, normal, trustworthy candidates—the kind that don’t make us cringe.

Further Reading

It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided with the New Politics of Extremism

American Hysteria: The Untold Story of Mass Political Extremism in the United States 

 

By Judi Zirin

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