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Old Dec 22, 2012, 12:35 PM   #1
Ugg
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Extremism in America: Where Did We Go Wrong?

In the 60s and 70s, extremism was the norm in the USA and Europe. Europe compromised. Abortion isn't an issue anymore, gay marriage is the norm, guns have no place in urban civilization, unions are stronger than before, cars get excellent mileage, public schools are the best in the world, healthcare is a right not a privilege. I could go on and on but I'm sure you see my point.

Europe certainly has problems but many are related to the nascent EU as a political entity as well as lack of openness in recently transformed countries like Spain and Greece.

Why did the US choose the path it did when by so many measures it was more expensive, socially divisive and has impoverished the middle class while creating an American oligarchy?

Is rational compromise simply contrary to American thought? Are we on the verge of another revolution like the labor revolts of a century ago or a revolt of the 60s against the horrible social repression of the 50s?

I simply can't see the US continue on such a destructive course.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 12:39 PM   #2
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Why did the US choose the path it did when by so many measures it was more expensive, socially divisive and has impoverished the middle class while creating an American oligarchy?
1980. Ronald Reagan was elected president. Yuppies exploded on the scene as the thirst for comfort and money overtook the progressive movement of the 1960s-70s. This was the birth of the modern conservative movement, and beginning of the divergence you mention in the OP.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 12:53 PM   #3
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I would agree that the extreme ends of the political spectrum on both sides are trying to run stuff while no one wants to listen to the middle. Extreme ideas make headlines and sell newspapers.

As for me I believe if you are a good citizen, follow the laws and pay your taxes I don't care if you want to own a certain type of weapon as long as it is not a fully automatic weapon or an illegal weapon like a sawed off shotgun. I also don't care about who you want to sleep with or marry. Have sex with anyone you want as long as it is consensual and the person is of legal age.

Cars getting excellent mileage? What do you call cars like the Volt, C-MAX Hybrid or Prius or just about any new compact to midsize car on the market today? Gas guzzlers? Sure we still have larger vehicles available, but if people want to pay the money to fill them up or have an actual need for those vehicles why ban them? If you compare distance traveled and roads in the US versus Europe it is easy to see why we prefer a little larger vehicles.

I'd agree with you on healthcare and would like to see a different system in place to take care of people, but it is a tough sell in our country. I'd say I am probably a lot more "conservative" person then you are, but if we really start comparing notes you would see we agree on a lot of things.

The only difference is I am not stuck on the idea one has to follow a certain political platform 100%. I believe that a person can be in favor of health care for all and gay rights while still being a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment and people being able to chose what kind of vehicle they drive.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:04 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ugg View Post
In the 60s and 70s, extremism was the norm in the USA and Europe. Europe compromised. Abortion isn't an issue anymore, gay marriage is the norm, guns have no place in urban civilization, unions are stronger than before, cars get excellent mileage, public schools are the best in the world, healthcare is a right not a privilege. I could go on and on but I'm sure you see my point.

Europe certainly has problems but many are related to the nascent EU as a political entity as well as lack of openness in recently transformed countries like Spain and Greece.

Why did the US choose the path it did when by so many measures it was more expensive, socially divisive and has impoverished the middle class while creating an American oligarchy?

Is rational compromise simply contrary to American thought? Are we on the verge of another revolution like the labor revolts of a century ago or a revolt of the 60s against the horrible social repression of the 50s?

I simply can't see the US continue on such a destructive course.
We'll continue on this course until the wheels fall off. The GOP and Teapublicans got seriously stung in the last election, but have they gotten the message? Nope.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:05 PM   #5
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1980. Ronald Reagan was elected president. Yuppies exploded on the scene as the thirst for comfort and money overtook the progressive movement of the 1960s-70s. This was the birth of the modern conservative movement, and beginning of the divergence you mention in the OP.
This yuppish consumer mindset has proliferated to such an extreme that it has taken precedence over almost everything in our society. America is a nation of shoppers infatuated with Freedom to Buy. This gives corporations near total control of mindshare in the form of control by advertising. Mass media is driven by ads. Ads bring more revenue when they reach a larger audience. Mass media in turn makes everything out to be one extreme or the other. We used to call it sensationalism, now it's just SOP. Sensationalized news brings more viewers because no one wants to not know about the newest emergency, which in turn brings additional ad revenue. The more extreme the news, the more money it earns these media outlets. The result is a minority extremist mindset and dialogue dominating our culture that originally did not accurately represent the average American, but is increasingly influencing the attitudes and actions of people who pay credence to what they hear, read and see without critically examining the information presented.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:09 PM   #6
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Or: Europe isn't the paradise you're making it out to be, and the US isn't the hellhole you're making it out to be. There are great places to live in the US and terrible places to live in Europe. I wish America was a lot more progressive on some things but there are other ways of approaching a problem than the "European way".

Now about gas mileage, cars in Europe aren't actually more environmentally friendly. The gas mileage difference is because an imperial gallon is more than a US gallon so the numbers make European cars look better. Then there are differences in testing and some emissions laws that favor European cars.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:16 PM   #7
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Or: Europe isn't the paradise you're making it out to be ...
Straw man.

OP doesn't paint Europe as paradise.

You may have missed when he said, "Europe certainly has problems ..."
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by filmbuff View Post
Or: Europe isn't the paradise you're making it out to be, and the US isn't the hellhole you're making it out to be. There are great places to live in the US and terrible places to live in Europe. I wish America was a lot more progressive on some things but there are other ways of approaching a problem than the "European way".

Now about gas mileage, cars in Europe aren't actually more environmentally friendly. The gas mileage difference is because an imperial gallon is more than a US gallon so the numbers make European cars look better. Then there are differences in testing and some emissions laws that favor European cars.
Europe along with most of the rest of the world (including Britain) measure petrol/diesel consumption in litres/kilometres so if there's some confusion it's in the conversion to gallons (U.S.)/miles.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 01:47 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by filmbuff View Post
Or: Europe isn't the paradise you're making it out to be, and the US isn't the hellhole you're making it out to be. There are great places to live in the US and terrible places to live in Europe. I wish America was a lot more progressive on some things but there are other ways of approaching a problem than the "European way".
Not when it comes to health care. We've been proven wrong on that.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 03:28 PM   #10
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In my opinion one of the major reasons why extremism is such a part of the political landscape to the USA, is that the word compromise has become a dirty word.
Both the US and to a certain extent Britain which had till recently only a two party system, this breeds a kind of intolerance. Every thing is black or white, right or left, there is NO willingness to work together.

Countries which have a multiparty political system tend not to go to far either to the right or to the left.

Another thing that adds to the problem is the Murdock press, the business model of this company is to create a Them Vs Us mentality.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:26 PM   #11
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Straw man.

OP doesn't paint Europe as paradise.

You may have missed when he said, "Europe certainly has problems ..."
Well Mr. Ad Hominem, I said that because the OP's first paragraph was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ugg View Post
In the 60s and 70s, extremism was the norm in the USA and Europe. Europe compromised. Abortion isn't an issue anymore, gay marriage is the norm, guns have no place in urban civilization, unions are stronger than before, cars get excellent mileage, public schools are the best in the world, healthcare is a right not a privilege. I could go on and on but I'm sure you see my point.
Is it just me or does that seem to contain a lot of fanboy talk that makes Europe seem like it's in the 21st century and 'Murica is stuck in the 1950s? As if Europe has a perfect healthcare system, "the best public schools in the world" (where in Europe? Certainly not all of it), and cars that get excellent mileage (but not really). You can't handwave away a whole paragraph of fanboy talk with one sentence about Europe having some problems too.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by filmbuff View Post
Well Mr. Ad Hominem, I said that because the OP's first paragraph was:



Is it just me or does that seem to contain a lot of fanboy talk that makes Europe seem like it's in the 21st century and 'Murica is stuck in the 1950s? As if Europe has a perfect healthcare system, "the best public schools in the world" (where in Europe? Certainly not all of it), and cars that get excellent mileage (but not really). You can't handwave away a whole paragraph of fanboy talk with one sentence about Europe having some problems too.
I'm sorry you've taken it that way. I think it's a legitimate question. Why did Europe take a different path than the US did. A path that has led to, generally, a more civil society. I think HAppyBunny has part of the answer. A two party system encourages polarization while a multi party system encourages the participation and inclusion of all members of society, not just the bookends.

I'm sure though there must be more to it though and of you're just here to take potshots at my OP then you sort of prove my point.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 04:43 PM   #13
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Well Mr. Ad Hominem, I said that because the OP's first paragraph was:
what?

citizenzen's post was exactly the opposite of ad hominem.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:16 PM   #14
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Now about gas mileage, cars in Europe aren't actually more environmentally friendly. The gas mileage difference is because an imperial gallon is more than a US gallon so the numbers make European cars look better. Then there are differences in testing and some emissions laws that favor European cars.
Actually, they are. Nice try though.

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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:19 PM   #15
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:39 PM   #16
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Well Mr. Ad Hominem ...
Wrong again. My point was not ad hominem.

Quote:
An ad hominem (Latin for "to the man"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is an argument made personally against an opponent instead of against their argument. Ad hominem reasoning is normally described as an informal fallacy, more precisely an irrelevance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem
I said nothing about you personally and only addressed your argument.

That is exactly the opposite of an ad hominem attack.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:43 PM   #17
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1775 1783 :-)
I would agree that the three fifths law was a big mess but by and large cutting the umbilical cord was a good thing nd led to the reform of British colonial policy.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:48 PM   #18
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Wrong again. My point was not ad hominem.
Except for the part where you accused me of being a straw man, which doesn't even make sense in this context. I think people just like to throw that word around.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 05:53 PM   #19
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Except for the part where you accused me of being a straw man ...


Your argument ... your argument was a straw man.

Not you personally.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 06:38 PM   #20
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Except for the part where you accused me of being a straw man, which doesn't even make sense in this context. I think people just like to throw that word around.
Are you not here to discuss the original post?
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 06:49 PM   #21
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Your argument ... your argument was a straw man.

Not you personally.
So any comparison between filmbuff and Worzel Gummidge was entirely accidental.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 06:57 PM   #22
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... Why did Europe take a different path than the US did. A path that has led to, generally, a more civil society. I think HAppyBunny has part of the answer. A two party system encourages polarization while a multi party system encourages the participation and inclusion of all members of society, not just the bookends.
It's been 50 years since the 60's. The US had a 2-party system for at least 50 years before then, so why wasn't it polarized, or becoming more polarized, for all the time before the 60's?

That's a serious question. I can think of various possible causes, but if you're going to point to the 2-party system as the root cause, and multi-parties as a possible solution, I think you should explain how 2-parties suddenly stopped working when you say it did.

My opinion is that there was plenty of extremism before the 60's, plenty of polarization, and there was no single root cause for America's path since the 60's. There were plenty of contributing factors, some mitigating factors that prevented eruption before the 60's, and no simple single answer.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 07:14 PM   #23
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It's been 50 years since the 60's. The US had a 2-party system for at least 50 years before then, so why wasn't it polarized, or becoming more polarized, for all the time before the 60's?
It has always been polarized. According to this table, since 1872, in just four presidential elections has a candidate other than a Democrat or Republican won any electoral votes (1924 was the last time that happened). Since 1872, the only party to elect a president has been either the Democratic or the Republican party.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 07:29 PM   #24
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Now about gas mileage, cars in Europe aren't actually more environmentally friendly. The gas mileage difference is because an imperial gallon is more than a US gallon so the numbers make European cars look better. Then there are differences in testing and some emissions laws that favor European cars.
They might be ahead as far as the gas mileage or environmentally friendly is concerned, however today you can find very environmentally friendly new vehicles in the US. If you want to buy those vehicles I think it is great. I drive something that is decent on fuel and is clean, but can still pull my snowmobile trailer. I went about as small as I can as far as any towing capacity is concerned.

Now as far as actual vehicle safety is concerned no country in the world regulates safety standards as well as we do. In fact when Ford decided to bring some of their vehicles over from Europe to the US to sell they had to rework major components to strengthen safety requirements and add additional safety equipment. Straight European cars without changes will not pass US safety standards. Now maybe we need stronger safety standards because of the larger vehicles on the road, but it is what it is.

I get tired of the whole idea that some in the US have that Europe is a better place to live. If you honestly believe that I am not sure why you would stay here. All countries have their pros and cons. I'm quite happy with my life in our country. My life isn't perfect, but I doubt life is perfect anywhere and in some places it would be MUCH worse. I know I lived in Iraq for a year while I was deployed and I can promise life really stunk for those people.
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Old Dec 22, 2012, 07:34 PM   #25
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It has always been polarized. According to this table, since 1872, in just four presidential elections has a candidate other than a Democrat or Republican won any electoral votes (1924 was the last time that happened). Since 1872, the only party to elect a president has been either the Democratic or the Republican party.
You missed 1968, when George Wallace won a bunch.

Not that it matters. If candidate Murgatroid wins by 50%+1 vote, he gets the job, leaving candidate Poindexter and his supporters with nothing. If you dislike what Murgatroid stands for, well sorry, you are (crude word meaning "out of luck"). If a system like that is not a sure road to a two-party system, what else could it be? Especially when you make it a battle of dollars and mud.
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