One of the downsides of our essentially two-party political system is that it tends to devalue individuality.
People with ideas too far outside the mainstream platform of either major party tend to be viewed somewhat suspiciously (until at some point down the road their ideas are sometimes co-opted, that is).
For all the talk about the Republican and Democratic parties being “Big Tents,” or what have you, both are still pretty rigidly defined organizations that don’t sway too much from the official line.
And that’s okay; Freedom of Association is a good thing.
But that does leave a sizable number of folks whose thought process doesn’t quite mesh with either party either uncomfortable grouped with the Dems or GOP, or outside what would be commonly referred to as the “mainstream” – on the fringe.
This political fringe often overlaps with what many in the mainstream might also describe as the societal fringe.
These individuals are outliers, holding views on any number of subjects that are seem radical to larger group as a whole: the guy who keeps a small arsenal of guns, not because he’s plotting a revolution but because he likes guns and worries that some day someone in power may think him untrustworthy of having such weapons; the businesswoman who rides a Harley and thinks it’s time to return to the Gold Standard; the guy who isn’t for or against gay rights per se, but instead simply wishes everyone to be treated equally, et cetera, ad finitum.
The Delaware Libertarian has an illuminating post about said “fringe,” and how it not only makes up a lot more of society than some people want to believe, but also how demonizing the fringe points to something disturbing among the non-fringe that feels the need to devalue those considered outside the mainstream:
“The Fringe has a very unsavory connotation today; it’s a term used to marginalize and demonize – mostly out of fear rather than vindictiveness, but that doesn’t change the effects of the process.
“People worry about fringe elementsinfiltrating rightwing political groups; just the mention of the word brings out the calls for government surveillance, extra care, politically correct denunciation.
“It has become impossible in these days of 24/7 MSM rectal examinations, YouTube, and blogs for many of us to see those with social and political views way off the beaten paths as … well … people.
“Here’s the thing: I’ve grown up with, lived with, worked with, joked with, even deployed to foreign countries with so many people that were so fringe in so many different ways that it is often the supposed mainstream that worries me more.”
As the Delaware Libertarian points out, most of the folks classified as “fringe” are too busy struggling through their own lives that even if they did secretly dream of something as grandiose as overthrowing the government – which 99.9 percent don’t – they wouldn’t wouldn’t have the time, energy or resources to do so.
His view is that there are bigger threats to each of us than those on the fringe:
“The Fringe doesn’t scare me, but I will tell you what does. I also spend hours and hours with suited bureaucrats who raise perfectly manicured children, give to the United Way, and routinely screw over the people they are supposed to be helping/educating/supervising.
“The little Eichmanns scare me…”
“The problem with Adolf Eichmann, as Hannah Arendt discovered in Jerusalem, is not that the bureaucrat who administered the Holocaust in any way belonged to The Fringe, but that he was terrifyingly banal, disturbingly normal.”
The fact is, this country was built by “the fringe,” and it’s one of the the things that’s made it unique for 230-plus years.
The folks in power today certainly have no obligation to pay heed to every “fringe” idea that comes down the road, nor are they required to pay attention to people who see the world differently than they do.
But they do themselves and the country no favors by demonizing those that see things differently than the majority.
(Hat tip: Waldo Lydecker’s Journal)