I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about who I am. Politically, that is. I'm finally coming to terms with an unfortunate reality. I am an extremist.
I've been a political extremist since I was about 17, when my dad said I was just going through a phase with the no-nukes liberalism and the rock 'n' roll. But I've been too busy railing on my counterparts on the right to sit down and think about it. I'm an extremist.
I'd planned to write an editorial this week expressing frustration over the Democrats' promise not to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Bush. As I did online research to prepare, I came upon much content suggesting that my lust for impeachment was evidence of extremism. And, sure enough, there was New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, the guys in charge of the Democrats' Senate and House election committees, respectively, on Meet the Press tripping over each other to tell Tim Russert that, no-good heavens, no-they won't impeach. Obviously, polling has told them that talk of impeachment wouldn't do them any good come Election Day. The Democrats are desperate to appeal to centrists. Therefore, my view on impeachment must be extreme.
But it's other issues, too. I'd like to see if a government takeover of healthcare would work-I'm an extremist. I think the government should guarantee access to a four-year university so everyone can have a shot at a bachelor's degree. I think taxes should be raised in order to pay for those things, but only if ending things like earmarks, pork-barrel spending and offshore corporate tax shelters doesn't result in enough savings to pay for them first-I'm an extremist.
I want to have a rational national debate about the legalization of certain drugs-I'm an extremist. I want a constitutional ban on the death penalty-I'm an extremist. I think we should let more immigrants into the country, not fewer, because they need jobs and we have them-I'm an extremist.
I think men should be allowed to marry other men, and women should be allowed to marry other women, and they should enjoy all the benefits of hetero-marriage-I'm an extremist. I don't believe in any god, and I think we'd be better off if worship, and all talk of it, were kept behind closed doors-I'm an extremist.
I don't see the liberal bias in the mainstream media-so I must be an extremist. I'm more liberal than Nancy Pelosi, who's considered by some to be an extreme liberal-so I must be an extremist. I thought Bill Clinton was way too conservative-I am an extremist. My views would get me elected to public office in, maybe, 13 of the nation's 3,066 counties-I'm an extremist.
I'm against clear-cutting of old-growth forests and whaling, but I don't see myself spiking trees or blowing up boats. On the other hand, I have a certain admiration for those who do and manage not to hurt anyone in the process-so I guess I'm an extremist. And I have been known to call people who want to ban abortion and allow prayer in public schools extremists-so what does that say about me?
But, problem is, I don't feel like an extremist. I think the government's job is to provide services, and I understand those services cost actual money. I think we're all better off if everyone has access to higher education and healthcare. I don't think gay marriage and increased legal immigration will do any damage whatsoever. These seem like such reasonable positions to me, and not the slightest bit extreme.
And what's so extreme about wanting the Democrats, should they take Congress, to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president? It's a judicial process. It would involve investigations and public hearings. It would allow us to get to the bottom of what all the president's men and women were up to in 2001 and 2002 as they sold us the concept of a war in Iraq that has killed 2,837 American service members and maimed many thousands more. The probable cause for investigation is there-in books like Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. Then there's the warrantless eavesdropping on our phone calls and sending prisoners to foreign countries to be tortured. It seems pretty clear that the president knew what the laws were and broke them willingly.
I don't think the president is above the law. Why is that considered extreme?
By the way, I'll be moderating a post-election, progressive-oriented forum called “Lessons Learned,” 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday evening, Nov. 16. Please go to www.progressivesd.org and click on “Calendar” for details.