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Tatum: Straddling the center line

Posted: March 17, 2015 9:40 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2015 1:00 a.m.

So I ran into an old friend the other night -- always a good thing.

We did what old friends do -- high five, have a beverage or six, shoot the breeze, catch up on old times.

Eventually the conversation turned to politics, as conversations are wont to do. My friend asked me a couple of question I really couldn’t answer.

One, who would I vote for if the presidential elections were being held today?

Two, where do I think I tend to lean politically?

Both were darn good and totally fair questions. And I know he believes I was ducking the issue with my answers -- he said as much -- and I can’t fault him for that, either.

Maybe I was, at that.

But the truth is, I honestly don’t know. I’m not that into politics, anyway, and I haven’t really followed the shenanigans of those who are being touted as possible horses in the 2016 race. What I do know is that thus far, those few that are out there have yet to impress me. I also know that the phrase “tax-and-spend” applies to all, not one political party. I also know government does not produce anything except more government.

Therefore, my approach remains firmly entrenched in the W.C. Fields School of political thought -- I generally vote against, rather than for candidates.

My problem, ultimately, is a profound distaste for the polarization of politics here in the good old U.S. of A. It seems the wing nut factions on the far ends of the spectrum make the most noise and therefore get the most attention. A few years ago, they just weren’t getting that kind of ink, face time or airplay. They existed -- think Lyndon Larouche -- but they were not really taken seriously by anyone other than a small group of like minded loose nuts and bolts.

The weirdest thing to me, though, is that all the wing nuts, far left and far right, are actually standing together -- they just don’t know it.

Then along came the rise of talk radio. I can even remember when Rush Limbaugh first came on the scene. I had to admit, I found the man amusing -- but was he someone to take seriously?  

Nonetheless, he was and is good at what he does. The loony left didn’t seem to catch on to what the rootin’ tootin’ right was doing for some time, then they countered with the likes of Al Franken -- whose book, complete with a title that needed its little nose wiped, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot and other Observations” -- and Janine Garofolo, a comedienne whose comic shtick tended to spotlight indecision and neuroses rather than political insight.

For all you fans of Franken and Garofolo, save your postage stamps. I like them, too -- in fact, find them as amusing as Limbaugh and his ilk. But ultimately, in my book, every one of them is in show business. I can’t take any of them very seriously because I don’t believe they really take themselves very seriously. Like passed gas after a good meal, I find them to be a momentary and often unwanted quick study in aroma over substance.

To answer my friend’s second question, whether I lean left or right on the political spectrum, I am a complete center lane rider. True, I tend to lean a little more to the right fiscally and a little more to the left socially, but I refuse to be in lockstep with anyone, whether it be a line dance or a goose step.

So here I sit, firmly stuck in the middle of the road, wondering where common sense went. And then the most absurd -- and frighteningly apropos -- thought hits me.

If I consider the whole political spectrum as one giant fanny, and if the Nazis are the mole on the right cheek and the Commies are the mole on the left cheek, what does that make me? And am I that because I refuse to take such a polarized stand? How dare I presume to think for myself?

It’s an uncomfortable place to be. I’m assuming -- pardon the inherent puns -- that if I complain a lot, then I am causing some pain, therefore I am a pain in said political fanny, just like everyone else.

A good argument can be made that standing in the middle of the road is the most dangerous place to be, if only because you have to watch for the oncoming trucks in both lanes. And when you’re, in the middle, you often make no sense to either side, because you are either too far to the right of the one or too far left of the other. It doesn’t matter that both sides have some good ideas that together could truly be terrific. So I can’t, I won’t, cross to one side or the other.

And I have this sneaking suspicion that I am not alone.

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