Extremism cannot bring moderation
In the past, we here at the Daily Targum have joined the chorus of voices calling for bipartisanship instead of polarization in politics, and we still stand firmly by that opinion. That being said, sometimes even the people calling for moderation go overboard in their expressions. Take, for instance, the comments of Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown in an interview with reporter Dave Bryan, in which Brown went as far as to say that the nation has not been as divided as it is now since the Civil War. While we agree that the nation is indeed far too divided, we think that Brown is painting a needlessly extreme picture of the facts. In a strange way, Brown is perpetuating exactly the kind of division that he is attempting to combat with these remarks.
Brown is correct in saying that "We are at a point of civil discord" and that "it is not trivial." However, Brown needs to remember that, during the Civil War, people were literally fighting each other. Sure, the bickering among politicians seems to have hit a fever pitch, and perhaps it has, but we're doing pretty well insofar as no one is taking up arms or threatening to secede yet. Once that sort of thing starts happening, we'll gladly reconsider Brown's remarks. For now, we're comfortable with asking him to calm down and reconsider.
In resorting to a Civil War comparison, Brown is exaggerating the size of the chasm that separates the liberals from the conservatives. This sort of exaggeration only serves to sway people's perceptions, encouraging them to see the gap as larger than it really is. These people then proceed to act accordingly — resulting in a real-world widening of the very chasm that Brown is posing as a serious threat to America. We do not doubt that Brown had the best intentions when he called attention to the size of the political canyon. Rather, we suspect that he merely found himself unwittingly swept up in all of the polarizing rhetoric that led to the gap in the first place.
If the country is to overcome polarization and really bring about a more moderate state of affairs, citizens and politicians cannot resort to extreme calls to action. Such calls run exactly counter to the task of bringing the country together. Instead, we're going to need rational, thoughtful discourse. It may not be very flashy or exciting, but it's the only path to the center that actually works.