If there is anything I can say about the tastes of the American people, it’s that they run to the extreme. I don’t just mean extreme, I mean !!!!!EXTREEEEEEEME!!!!! We don’t seem to be satisfied with anything unless it is so absurdly, ourtageously beyond whatever came before it. Our television is a fantastic window into this cultural quirk of ours. There is a show on cable in which a man travels the states and goes to restaurants that serve ‘challenges’–Eat this nine pound burger and fries in under an hour and get your name on the wall! Even our smaller fare runs to extremes via insanely jacked-up artificial flavorings. We have hot nacho chips that will burn the enamel off your teeth. We have sour candies that will make tears roll down your face. Americans have an almost masochistic relationship with food.
From the waistline of the average American, it’s no secret that we like our food extreme, both in flavor and portion. We feel the same about our entertainment. A fifty-inch television screen is laughably small now that they’re regularly found in 70-plus. If a film’s ticket sales are counted in tens of millions of dollars instead of hundreds of millions, it’s considered a flop. And it’s no wonder; the production costs of such orgiastic star-studded gluts are in the tens of millions before shooting is even complete.
Automobiles? Forget it. America will always be king of cars. The streets are crammed with huge, rumbling SUVs on 26 inch wheels with lift kits and stereos loud enough to shake the windows five stories up. The reflex is to pooh-pooh at our crapulence, but I’m not going to. As much as I bemoan our extravagance and gluttony, I can’t help but feel a little endearment towards it. We are rather unique that way, and our ostentatiousness has kept us right in the center of attention for a good many decades.We just do big and loud and in-your-face better than anyone else, and a small part of me is proud of that.
For every big, loud stereo, there is one bigger and louder that will be made the next year. For every smart phone, there’s another one coming that’s smarter. If there’s a nine-pound burger challene, someone will top it with a twelve pounder. The trouble with !!!!EXTREEEEEEEEME!!!! is that there really is no end point, only endless jumps to next big thing. And as our appetites have been whet for the next hot pepper that will cause your spleen to leap out through your navel, so have our desires for extremely polarized politics. Gone are the days where anyone on either side, and by side I mean you, Democrats and Republicans, might reach across the aisle on an issue. The calmly moderate candidate is the punchline to a joke about debate airtimes. The candidate who doesn’t ride the waves on a raft of cruel, barbed sound bites is dead in the water. Political ads are nothing but a venomous string of character assasinations. Ironically, they’re pointing out how wrong a candidate is based on !!!!!EXTREEEEEEME!!!!! viewpoints, while touting the awesomeness of their own !!!!EXTREEEEEEME!!!! viewpoints. If I was 7% less cynical, I would pee myself laughing every time I saw one of these ads. Instead, I just see a pissing contest over who is the hardest of the hardline.
There seems to be a contest withinthe parties to see who can be the most extreme right Republican or the most extreme left Democrat. And if you’re not trying to win, they don’t even want you around, stinking things up with your moderation. Moderation is for sissies! You gotta take every gun from every person in every town and burn ’em all in a huge fire!!! You gotta run them dirty homos out into the ocean and free America of this scourge that is warping children!!! If you don’t like this candidate, you’re a RACIST!!!! If you don’t like that candidate, you’re a TERRORIST!!! VOTE FOR ME OR THEY WILL ALLOW NINE-YEAR-OLDS TO GET ABORTIONS AND SMOKE CRACK!!! VOTE FOR ME OR THE KKK WILL RIDE IN ON THE HINDENBERG AND BURN ALL THE LIBRARIES TO THE GROUND!!!!
Great googly moogly, everyone, calm down for a second here. Let’s all take a big huff of some sooty American air and look at what’s going on here. The problem with extremely polarized societies is that a good chunk of people end up getting screwed hard so that another chunk can be somewhat happy. And it doesn’t matter which way the scales tip; when they tip all the way left, or all the way right, a good chunk of the population gets its head stepped on. In the interest of a free society, everyone needs to be a little bit flexible and must agree to disagree. Everyone needs to realize that we’re not all going to get what we want all the time. That goes beyond politics, that’s life. Therefore, we need to realize one important thing: in our quest to get to our !!!!!EXTREEEEEEME!!!!! personal contentment with the social climate of America, we are voting in politicians on the promise that they will give an !!!EXTREEEEEEME!!!!! beating to the things and people that we tend not to agree with.
Witholding something from, or taking something away from another doesn’t make you more free. It makes us all less so. Voting in someone on the intent of having them withold or take something from someone else is at best, juvenile, at worst, sadistic. The price you pay for living in a free society is that you often have to tolerate things you don’t like in order to freely engage in the things you do like. And I don’t mean we all have to suck it up and accept the presence of the TSA, because that is a hidous cancer that I’ll get my hooks into later. I’m talking about lifestyles, about preferences, about interests and choices.
Let me remind you again that I do my damndest to walk right down the middle. There are traditonally ‘conservative’ opinions that I agree with. There are traditionally ‘liberal’ opinions that I can agree with. I don’t agree with such things in that I want to align myself with one or the other, I do it because I love freedom. Freedom is total. Freedom is absolute. Freedom has no contingencies, no clauses, no ifs, ands or buts. Freedom for one does not come at the expense of the other. The fact that it is acceptable to stand behind a candidate who gleefully squashes the freedoms of other groups because it is a party of ‘values’ makes me sick. Neither the Democrats or the Republicans understand values, nor do they understand freedom. They undersand this: “We’re good, you’re bad, and we will do whatever we can to force you to be like us. And then we will also screw over the people who voted for us, because we don’t give a toss about anyone’s freedom, we just want your tax dollars so we can do some !!!EXTREEEEEEEME!!!! pork barreling and possibly get hookers.”
Example: The left typically seeks to disarm America. As if stripping away a Constitutional right will make us more free, I assure you, makes us less so. It also does not make us more safe, more happy, more attractive or more successful. And the Democratic party pursues this issue with great fervor, screamingt that this will save millions of lives, despite hard evidence to the contrary. And anyone who wanders into the Dems’ clubhouse that isn’t on board with this gets stuck at the kid’s table. There have been a great number of good Democrats who respected the Constitution and were able to take a less extreme approach. Can the average American, including myself, name any? Not really. I actually would have voted Democrat in 2008 if Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) hadn’t been swept under the rug with his near-libertarian platform. He loved freedom, moderation and compromise. Therefore, he was not interesting. If they’re not able to foam at the mouth on television, nobody wants to listen. Moderation and critical thinking? Bah! Gimmie my ten-pound bacon burger, NOW!!!!!
The Republicans have been in a tizzy over gay rights for ages. Despite all the heterosexual divorces and affairs and unwed mothers and the Kardashians, they bewail the death of family values, and how it’s the fault of those damn dirty queers. They vote again and again to keep gay Americans on the second tier, as if they weren’t human beings or real citizens like the rest of us. They’re less legally entitled to the rights we give to everyone else because they don’t fit the Bible’s description of an acceptable coupling. I’m not knocking the Bible, I’m Catholic. However, last time I checked, the supreme law of the land was the Constitution, not the Bible. And so the Republican Decency Officer of the week(tm) takes a break from banging his mistress screams and carries on about how gays are destroying the very soul of the American family. Despite overwhelming evidence that the increased divorce rate is unrelated to people coming out of the closet, the Republicans are sure they’ve nailed the problem. And heaven help the Republican who wanders into the clubhouse thinking that, instead of treating gays like a disease, treat them like Americans instead. Can you name any like that? Offhand, I can’t, because they get stuck working the coat check. No one wants a Republican that isn’t a loony Bible thumper anymore. The calm and measured approach isn’t exciting enough. Gimmie my damn 26-inch rims and 1,000 watt kickerbox NOW!!!!!
And so, in our appetite for the extreme, we have sought out those who are farther and farther from the sensible, center ideal, and closer to the totalitarian ends. And no matter which side you align with, you are someone else’s bad guy. In search of the magical man or woman who is going to transform America into your personal utopia, you have screwed someone else out of their right to Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Don’t like guns? Don’t get one. Hate gays? Don’t be one. Don’t like smut on TV? Change the channel. Can’t stand hearing the national anthem? Don’t go to the baseball game. We’re so busy trying to make sure that no one else doesn’t do the stuff we don’t like, we’ve lost sight of the fact that we’re just screwing ourselves out of our overall freedom.
And to those who huff and puff that their side is still better, riddle me this: Why can your team never work with the other team to balance our budget, yet they had no problem joining hands with the enemy to pass the Infinite Detention Bill? Totalitarianism wears both a left boot and a right boot. On whose throat will your favorite candidate’s boot rest? Are you voting for a better, freer America, or are you voting to keep ___________ away from the ___________s? I don’t write this to urge anyone to vote for anyone in particular. I’m only urging you to take a look at what our offerings are, and consider how your choice affects the greater good. Your awesome is someone else’s misery. Could you find it in your heart to forego awesome and settle for good, if it means someone else gets to move up from miserable to good? We’re not always going to get what we want, all the time, and if you’re big enough to read stuff like this, you’re big enough to have figured that out. At least I hope you have. But do take to heart that we are all here, we are all Americans, and the choices we make don’t affect only us. Because, as you’re busy arguing about the moral superiority of your team, they’re working with the other team to build a state of !!!EXTREEEEEEEME!!! martial law. No one is going to care who you voted for when you’re in the gulag. There will be no arguing about it on the internet when you’re breaking rocks. By then it’ll be too late to wish you’d voted for someone a little less hardline, and you’ll see how snatching freedom from others only made all of us slaves in the end.