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  • Writer's pictureRaymond Niblock

From Hapless to Hopeful: Unraveling Extremism and Rediscovering Reason in Our Democratic Tapestry

The overwhelmingly positive response to The Last Independence Day has been nothing short of inspiring, underscoring the urgent need for our collective engagement in the fight against political extremism to safeguard our democratic republic. One example came from an Australian reviewer:

In a phrase, "Carmel got the point!" What happens when extremist rhetoric things become policy?

Another reviewer wrote:

I was happy that Andrew, the reviewer above, also focused on "what it means to stand up for what you believe in."

Yet, amidst this sea of support, a small contingent, humorously termed the "Hapless Band of Three," has expressed dissatisfaction. This group, composed of two former military schoolmates and Dr. Dudley, reflects a broader societal trend of emotional rather than intellectual dissent. Sadly, I had to give them the title “Hapless” because their response has, perhaps, belied their intellectual acumen. Their reaction is indicative of a larger issue: the intoxicating effect of extremist rhetoric that sidelines reason.

The Hapless Band’s responses stem from emotional reactions rather than arguments grounded in reason. For instance, my two military schoolmates seem to feel betrayed, as if my educational background alongside them at military school mandated a lifelong adherence to conservatism in whatever form it takes today – I note that conservatism in the 80s and early 90s was vastly different than today’s version. Moreover, their feedback lacks substantive critique, with one admitting to not even exploring TLID beyond its teaser. This reluctance to engage deeply with the material suggests a disinterest in constructive dialogue about the core message of TLID: unchecked political extremism will destroy our nation.

This phenomenon is not limited to any one political party; it concerns ideologies, especially extreme ones, which TLID addresses with a focus on right-wing extremism.

The mention of "The Orange Man" illustrates the power of charismatic figures to elicit strong emotional responses, often at the expense of facts and rational discourse. Remember the Orange Man’s “counselor to the president” who spoke of "alternative facts?" Such concepts have no place in political discourse. Lunacy. I was shocked the counselor's comments received any oxygen. Perhaps the only spot “alternative facts” might be indulged is within theoretical physics, but even then, differing interpretations still demand empirical evidence and mathematical coherence. Why would we not demand the same in political discourse defies imagination? Look at the state of affairs today: falsehoods parade as truths, undermining the very foundations of informed democratic debate.

Reflecting on the framers of the U.S. Constitution, so often held up as examples by our friends on the Right, it's evident that today’s Right has forgotten that our Founders, Framers, and later the Ratifiers, were deeply influenced by a tradition of rigorous intellectual debate and philosophical thought grounded in objective fact and reason.

Ideas stretching back to Plato and Aristotle influenced Enlightenment thinkers such as John Locke, Montesquieu, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, all of whom we owe for our Constitution's longevity. Sadly, the ideas that highlight a commitment to objective reality and reasoned debate that gave rise to the Great Document are increasingly rare today. If anything, the Right rejects intellectualism, opting, instead, to indulge in rage.

The Hapless Band's detachment from reasoned discourse reflects a broader societal sentiment that cannot go unaddressed. However, their knee-jerk reactions lack logical basis, making it difficult for me to understand their worldview. I should be more open-minded and try to see things from their perspective. Understanding is the first step towards healing, and our country needs it.

Here is a sampling of the warring points of view in today's deeply divided political landscape. These divisions are not only ideological but often reflect deeper societal, economic, and cultural rifts. The specifics vary significantly by country, but several common themes emerge across many democratic societies, including ours.

Economic Policy

- Capitalism vs. Socialism: Debates around the role of government in the economy, wealth distribution, and the extent of social welfare programs. Capitalist viewpoints emphasize free markets and limited government intervention, while socialist viewpoints advocate for greater economic equality and social safety nets.

- Taxation: The extent and progressivity of taxation, including disputes over tax rates for the wealthy and corporations versus middle and lower-income individuals.

Social Issues

- Identity Politics: Issues related to race, gender, sexuality, and identity, including rights for marginalized communities, affirmative action, and anti-discrimination policies.

- Abortion: This remains a deeply divisive issue, with opposing views on women's reproductive rights versus fetal rights.

- Gun Control: Particularly in the U.S., the balance between the right to bear arms and the need for regulations to prevent gun violence.

Environmental Policy

- Climate Change: Differences over the seriousness of climate change, its causes, and the appropriate response. Debates often center on environmental regulation, the fossil fuel industry, and investment in renewable energy.

- Conservation vs. Development: Balancing environmental protection with economic development and land use.

Foreign Policy

- Interventionism vs. Isolationism: The degree to which a country should involve itself in international affairs, military interventions, and global alliances versus a focus on domestic issues and non-intervention.

- Trade: Free trade agreements versus protectionist policies designed to protect domestic industries.

Governance and Democracy

- Authoritarianism vs. Democracy: Debates over the concentration of power, the role of checks and balances, and the health of democratic institutions.

- States' Rights vs. Strong Centralized Federal Government: How should power be divided between the states and the federal government?

- Voting Rights and Election Integrity: Disputes over voter ID laws, gerrymandering, access to voting, and the security of elections.

Public Health and Safety

- Pandemic Response: Views on government mandates, vaccinations, and restrictions to control the spread of viruses like COVID-19.

- Policing and Criminal Justice: The balance between law and order, police reform, and racial justice in the criminal justice system.


- Legal Immigration v. Illegal Immigration: Central issues include border security, the impact on labor markets, and the legal status of undocumented immigrants already in the country.

- Broader Philosophical Differences: Broader philosophical differences about the role of government, individual freedoms, equality, justice, and national identity often influence these points of contention. The intensity of these debates can vary, but they are a testament to the ongoing struggle to define and implement policies that reflect the values of diverse and changing societies.

In conclusion, if you sympathize with the Hapless Band's views or are intrigued by the forces driving political extremism, I invite you all to engage one another in an open dialogue. I also encourage you to study a little history. History is replete with examples, none altogether positive, where unchecked mob rule leads to anything positive. All of us should explore the reasons behind our political beliefs concerning economic policies, societal changes, or broader cultural shifts. By understanding the genesis of our differing views, we hope to bridge the divide and move forward collectively.

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Mar 24

As per your suggestion, reading Tyranny of the Minority is a sound historical reminder where unchecked extremism in the hands of a controlling minority can undermine what our Founding Fathers planned for, and most of us would believe, is the Greatest Country in the World.

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