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I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Leftwing, Rightwing

As someone who serves as a missionary in Mexico, I frequently find myself in different churches around the country. It is always interesting to me to hear the hopes and concerns of Christians in the USA regarding their faith, family, life, and more recently, politics.

It should come as no secret to anyone that a sizable majority of the evangelical Christian world in America is concerned about the direction of our nation.

To many, President Barack Obama is putting this country on a path to destruction. He is seen not as a principled liberal, but more often, as a dangerous leftist/socialist/fascist, determined to undermine everything that made this country great.

Barack Obama is, in the words of quite a few folks, an extremist.

I have been thinking about that a lot lately. But not as it relates to Obama. I have been wondering what someone on the extreme right looks like.

If President Obama is the embodiment of the extreme radical leftwing of the Democratic Party, what does the other side of the coin look like? Or, put another way, what does the extreme radical rightwing of the Republican Party look like?

Logically, one would have to agree that any viewpoint taken to some ideological extreme could be seen as a radical, dangerous point of view. So maybe some of you more conservative readers could help me out here.

I am not looking for any Barack Bashing. I am looking for some reasonable thoughts on what would be considered rightwing extremism, and some examples of people currently espousing those viewpoints in American politics.

Comments on "Leftwing, Rightwing"

 

Blogger James' Muse said ... (11:46 AM) : 

Personally, I feel like the other side of the coin would have to be former President Bush, Cheney, and Rove. You could lump Limbaugh and Palin in there, but they haven't really had any concrete way to shape policy or held much in the way of actual national power.

But just as Obama feels he is doing his best, though many feel like it is merely a power grab, the left felt that way about Bush and Cheney, who increased Executive power beyond their predecessors with the PATRIOT act, wiretapping, and executive priviledge.

Many of the accusations thrown at Obama were first thrown at Bush.

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (12:20 PM) : 

James, those are people you cited. What I am looking for is the behavior that makes the people extremists.

For instance, Obama is seen as a leftist/extremist for his purported views on government spending, health care, and national defense.

It is as a result of his views that he is seen as such.

What viewpoints and actions can someone take, that will make them be seen as rightist/extremist leaders "by the right?"

It is like this. Code Pink, Cindy Sheehan, and the people that dress up in cow suits at the G-7 meetings are correctly [IMHO] seen as a little off kilter.

Now I am of course, a leftist. So, what would make a person on the right say that someone is too far to the right?

Any ideas?

Anyone?

 

Blogger the malcontent said ... (12:01 PM) : 

Obama is a passionless, programed speech reader and ideologue. I am not looking for a way to admire him. When he stops the endless, meaningless platitudes and the whining and looks me in the eye and tells the truth, then I will consider considering his words.

Just like poor old Tiger Woods, Obama is a manufactured media personality who has left a trail of dirty laundry, but wants us to continue to worship his potential.

He is still the puppy that chased and caught the UPS truck. When he starts to be Presidential, I will start to pay him some respect. Being “The Won” does not cut it with me, no matter what words make it into a speech

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (7:48 PM) : 

Mal, you must have missed my question. Since I know you are of the more conservative side of the ledger, you'd be a perfect one to answer for me.

Yet, you came here and just posted something that has no bearing on anything I've written.

I appreciate you stopping by, but why not try reading what is posted, and responding directly to that, as opposed to saying whatever is on your mind at the moment your browser brings up the page?

I truly am looking for some real thought on this one.

 

Blogger Tim said ... (6:47 AM) : 

David- As always, I enjoy hearing your views on many issues, politics included.
A right wing extremist, in my opinion, would be someone who wants to roll back civil rights, slash taxes on the wealthy and institute regressive tax policies that keep the poor down and undermine the middle class, bully other countries with military power, dismantle the social welfare state that has existed since the end of WWII, as well as supress free speech of it's own citizenry by brute force.
One needs to only look at Nazi Germany under Adolph Hitler or Chile under Pinochet, Iran under both the current regime and the Shah, Or the ruling military junta of Burma (Myanmar).
Obama may be a Socialist, but he certainly is not a Fascist. A Fascist government (like Nazi Germany and Italy under Mussolini) is one where the state hass complete, iron fisted control over virtually every aspect of life of the people, and caters to large corporations by supressing trade unions, subsidizing manufacturing and severely regulating international trade through punitive tariffs and duties.

That being said, I do not have a problem with Social Democracy. Really, since Reagan, the center of America has shifted right. A "Centrist" of 1975 would now be called a "Liberal" (as if that's a dirty word) today. I can't tell you how many times I have been called a "Lefty Lib" in the blogshere because of slight differences in opinion. Me, a gun owning Christian. You even mention taxing windfall oil profits to help the auto companies, or tightening enviornmental rules to stop invasive species from ruining the Great Lakes, and all of a sudden you're an anti business Commie.
Current Republicans are not Conservative. They are rightwing reactionaries who want to "take our country back" to a time of no public schools, back alley abortions, and though they won't say it in polite company, put blacks back in their place, as well as get rid of "illegal" immigrants (really, they'd like to get rid of all immigrants who don't look like them). That's what's driving them nuts. That "colored fellow" in the White House.

 

Blogger rockync said ... (7:27 AM) : 

Oh, now that is one to ponder. The whole leftist/marxist/socialist meme has been so well defined by the right and so wearily and constantly defended by the left that I doubt anyone has ever given a question like this too much thought.
Good one, Dave!
I guess what I would consider the actions of a right wing extremist would be the reversal of Roe v Wade, more legislation against gays and minorities, the establishment of a national religion (don't think I have to state which one), the immediate drilling of oil out of every nook and cranny and reinstatement of the draft to be followed by an escalation of hostilities in the Middle East. The Patriot Act would be made permanent and expanded to broaden executive powers...starting to sound like an HG Wells novel!

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (9:52 AM) : 

Rocky, it is either Wells, or you are sounding like the Bush Admin.

As you can see, no one from the right has taken up my question.

They are either embarrassed that their views are in fact extremist, or somehow feel that no one on the right is extremist.

Interesting, isn't it?

 

Blogger rockync said ... (10:46 AM) : 

Interesting and strange. It seems extremists (right and left) want to fling all sorts of derogatory labels at those of opposite views but see their own views as either:
1)patriotic - Do these people really believe that if the any of our founders were here today they would support the Patriot Act or nod in approval at the religious furor over Christmas displays? or
2) Christian - this one is especially insidious. People use this more as a noun instead of its more proper usage as an adjective as in "Christ-like." I wonder how many of these people believe that if Christ were here today, he would be shaking his fist and carrying a placard that reads, "All gays will burn in hell" or cheering when a doctor gets shot in the head.

Seems much of the Bible's admonishments to its followers have been replaced by an edict to carry out God's work; last time I checked it was God who was supposed to punish the wicked and judge the unrighteous while "Christians" were to feed the hungry, shelter the poor, care for the widows and visit the incarcarated.
Somewhere along the way we lost the ability to see each other first as fellow Americans. And if we continue to be this deeply divided, this country will surely falter.

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (10:56 AM) : 

It does seem as if many have replaced the "religion" of Jesus, with the religion of state.

Tillich defines true religion as that which we will die for, our "Ultimate Concern."

I wonder what many who have replaced emulating Jesus with doing the work of God would say about that.

 

Blogger James' Muse said ... (2:14 PM) : 

Dave, to answer your question, I did put some actions above. I am a Republican, and lean a bit more to the right than you.

I believe, as a lifelong Republican from a family of Republicans, that Bush and his administration were perfect examples of being extremists.

Actions: Increasing executive power to carry out neo-conservative idealogy. Neo-conservatism, in my opionion, is a bit extremist in nature, wanting to change the world by military force, even if that means "pre-emption."

Many talk show pundits, advocating disrespect towards, and at times, outright rebellion against the president because he's "ruining" our country [read: he's a democrat].

More on extremism from the right, viewed by one of their own: The GOP Litmus test resolution circling the RNC right now, where in order to be supported by the GOP, a candidate must sign off on at least 8 of 10 talking points.

Or in California, where GOP State Assemblyman Anthony Adams is being ostricized for one vote that the GOP didn't like in a lifetime of VERY conservative votes. 99% just isn't good enough anymore. And I'd call that "Extremist."

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (3:09 PM) : 

Amen, James, the California example is probably the best one out there. It has become about all or nothing to be a "real" Republican.

 

Blogger Patrick M said ... (2:39 PM) : 

Well, since you posed the question for conservatives, and James isn't conservative enough (and since I'm just getting to this post), I'll try to give you an answer.

To be on the extreme right (as opposed to conservative (or libertarian as I am leaning)), someone would have to espouse positions held by conservatives for on other reason than because it's right wing (in other words, with no thought, just a "keep the government out of Mediscare" sign.

We'll take that hand grenade of topics, abortion. A conservative may hold the belief that all life is sacred and be unable to vote for anything that increases the availability or number of abortions. But an extremist would be the type of person who would ban birth control for the reason it might flush a fertilized egg, and therefore "kill" a life, and be willing to back that up with a jail sentence.

Conservatism, by nature is less about radical change than it is considering and not changing things that aren't broke. So most of the current positions are simply rollbacks to many of the places we were before (with the exceptions of rolling back civil rights, which would be extremist).

So if I were to pick some examples of extremists, Ron Paul takes the cake on a few issues here and there. Sarah Palin could be considered a little fringy in spots.

But generally, the right wing fringe doesn't rise to the top, because radical and conservative don't mix. If I were to pick the biggest radical right voice, it would be the host of the Wiener Nation, Michael Savage.

I will say it is hard for me to distinguish conservative from radical right, as they say mostly the same thing and I usually find myself mostly in agreement. In other words, it's a fine distinction mostly, defined by a leaning toward radical action vs measured changes. Also, it includes intolerance for reasoned dissent from the general conservative philosophy.

In short, our crazies aren't as radical as the left's crazies.

James: I have to take exception with classifying Bush as an extremist. If anything, he was the opposite (read as Obama-lite) when it came to the economy, especially in 2008.

As for the doctrine of preemption and the Patriot act, there is a history of presidents facing war (Adams, Alien and Sedition Acts; Lincoln, suspension of Habeus Corpus; FDR, Japanese internment) taking acts that during purely peaceful times would be wholly intolerable (the A&S acts were found unconstitutional, internment is a black mark on FDR's record). In post-9/11, it was not unreasonable, although much of it has been rolled back over time (as it should have been).

Some neo-con thoughts do push the edge of extremism, though.

 

Blogger Beth said ... (10:00 PM) : 

I am not saying this to be funny but there is no such thing as extremist conservatives because conservatism is simply about holding to the principles that our Founding Fathers started our great nation upon. Sure, at the time they were radical because people were used to tyranny, they never had such freedom! And it was our freedoms that helped our country prosper in our relatively short history. So why were are heading towards tyranny and less freedom makes no sense to me.

 

Blogger Dave Miller said ... (10:32 AM) : 

Beth, philosophically, every idea must have a radical extreme, otherwise no ideas have an extreme.

 

Blogger Beth said ... (7:56 PM) : 

I respectfully disagree, Dave. Conservatism is about personal responsibility and individualism and having people be free to succeed (or fail but at least be free to do so), as long as one's actions do not infringe upon another's rights. I cannot see how someone can take that to the extreme, my rights end where your begin.

 

Blogger Beth said ... (10:46 PM) : 

I decided there could be someone too far right, someone who is for totally anarchy I would guess would be extreme right, but I don't see a large movement of these extremists so I did not really consider them before. I apologize for answering hastily.

 

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