The Myth of the Pacific Middle

Posted Sunday, 04 June 2006, 12:17 pm

I lean to the right, ideologically, at least, that’s what most tell me. Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, that means I sit slightly left of Karl Marx, so perhaps that’s not such a bad tag to have. I’m fond of suggesting that I’m part of the vast political middle – where the average joes live, unencumbered by extreme ideology.

But that’s nonsense. I have some exceedingly strong political opinions, ones that are unlikely ever to change, as to my mind, I know The Right Path in this regard; there is good, there is evil, and I know which side I stand upon.

The problem is, some of my political opinions really are on the far left, while some are on the far right. what’s a mother to do?

The reality is, there is no ‘pacific middle’. The calm, moderate individual, unswayed by extremes of political opinion, doesn’t exist. well, Okay, he or she does. I lied. It’s not that the individuals who fall in that category don’t exist, it’s that the concept of moderate political opinion is patent nonsense.

What is really at work, what really describes it, is the apathetic middle. And they are the majority in the United States, hands down. In some respects, this is kind of cool. This mightily blessed land has fostered such a widespread dissemination of freedom and security that most people really have no idea what is at work behind the scenes creating and maintaining that environment. It’s like the spoiled rich kid – daddy may have worked his tail off to bring wealth to his family, but the children, beneficiaries of that wealth, often have the sensibility that ‘that’s how it always is’. That the wealth is simply ‘normal’, so why the big deal about it?

What is really beautiful about it is that that’s how it should be. And for most – most – that’s how it is. What we have in the US is a wealth of freedom. We are fabulously rich with freedom. And remarkably enough, we are for the most part also wealthy in the quality of life we’ve brought to ourselves. I’m certainly not suggesting that there are no poor, no desparate in the US. That would be nonsense. But the quality of life that most have is extraordinary in this country.

The Greater Good is often usurped by those who want to impose more restrictions on The People, rather than expanding freedom. This may be a symptom also of the spoiled rich kid syndrome. Forgive the sexist metaphors attached, but it’s much as if some want to take on the role of the mommy in that hypothetical rich family. Mother, while caring for others, also controls others. Mother tells you what’s best. Mother supplies the tissue to wipe your nose. Mother makes sure you don’t burn yourself on the stove. Mothers are great!

The problem, of course, is that we aren’t children.

Freedom carries responsibilities – and once you delegate someone else to manage those responsibilities, you run the risk of having the freedoms taken away altogether.

How does this relate to the apathetic middle? Because apathy is the most direct path to someone else taking those freedoms. If you don’t care, then someone else will.

As it stands, because of the long history of self-sufficiency, independence, and desire for freedom in the US, the ‘good guys’ outnumber the ‘bad guys’ in spades. For the most part, the good guys want to run the country. Doesn’t matter what political party – most of those to whom we’ve conferred powers genuinely do have the best interests of The People at heart. So the apathetic middle has been able to fairly reliably rely upon the government to ensure their freedoms, while staying largely out of their hair, and not bothering them with annoyances like military coups, public executions, and other bothers. The apathetic middle just lives their lives, and doesn’t give a care to what’s going on in Washington, or the city council.

But. But…

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