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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Conservatives and liberals in the middle

Just listening to the public debates in the political world leaves one with a swimming head. Like watching a game of tennis we move from one side to another watching the ball move back and forth. In the political sense the ball is whatever issue currently captures the forefront. We are seeing a movement in today’s political scene that is generating a lot of positive regard for so-called Independents.

Personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck on the “conservative” side take on the personalities of Barak Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi on the “liberal” or “progressive” side. As “We the People” sit in the stands watching the “issue” being batted back and forth, we wonder about the outcomes of such debates. We are asked to mark our own position regarding the issue and ultimately make a decision about where we stand.

As these “ideologues” present their evidence through a “montage” constructed by bits of evidence from former speeches by their opposition, they weigh in with what they determine as “proof” of their position. We are asked to judge the credibility of the “proof” and then become opposition or proponents, whatever the case may be.

Some of those issues currently being debated include such grandiose things as capitalism versus socialism for our country. Tributaries from those issues include such things as more government control versus less government control; higher taxes vs. lower taxes; universal healthcare vs. some form of status quo; market economy vs. redistribution of wealth; and, illegal immigration issues leading to deportation vs. legalization and amnesty.

The difficulty in arriving at a clear-cut position is not only the many-facetted perceptions of any single issue, but the variance in individual acceptance of the credibility of either side of the argument as most people watch and listen.

I have a Theory: The only thing that will advance the cause of liberalism is conservatism; the only thing that will advance the cause of conservatism is liberalism.

A person whose mind-set or world view is liberalism will not readily compromise with a conservative. Likewise, a person whose mind-set or world view is conservatism will not compromise with a liberal.

Moderation is a word that both conservatives and liberals abhor. It is assumed that a person with moderation lacks the fire or passion to accept the positions on either the right or the left.

Conservatives who are on the right are generally moving in the direction of conservatism; liberals who are on the left are generally moving in the direction of liberalism.

Since they are generally (almost always) moving in the direction of their mindset, they only get more liberal or more conservative respectively as time passes. Each side ultimately reaches a point where ideology on either side reaches a position of radicalism. When radicalism becomes dominant the ideologue being generally fearful of the radicalism begins a retreat that causes a movement of mindset in a different direction. At the point of radicalism for a liberal person, generally, as one conservative idea is accepted as tenable to the liberal mind, others tend to be more plausible as well; likewise, at the point of radicalism for the conservative person, generally, as one liberal idea is accepted as tenable to the conservative mind, others tend to be more plausible as well.

Therefore, it is moderation which is always moving in one direction or the other.

This is the pendulum effect that swings to the right as far as it can, then returns to the left and moves in that direction until it goes as far as it can; it then momentarily stops and begins its journey back to the right.

A moderate then, is either coming from the right, or coming from the left. But during that travel time there is a point, or range, at which each position has some similar values and attitudes in common. Often this can be described as the common ground where the minds meet and compromise occurs.

I believe that is where our so-called “Tea Party” movement is taking form. If one could do a detailed study of each participant in that movement (or a good, reliable representative sample), I believe that the majority of “moderate” positions would be much less inclined to hang on to an arbitrary position at the extreme of either liberal or conservative, and much more willing to compromise to the more common ground.

In our current political situation I believe we are seeing a reaction to the extreme left that offered up our so-called “hope and change” during the last national election. During that election the extreme radicals on both the left and the right delivered the current conditions. I believe that what we will see during the next national election will be great numbers of those who were on the extreme radical side of left and right turn out as moderates (or independents) and reverse their previous decision because each extreme position is on their journey back to the middle.

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