One of the most radical and most defining characteristics of the Founding Fathers was their ability to simultaneously hold and articulate two seemingly opposing points of view:
Religiosity is good, BUT state mandated religion is bad.
Local governance is important, BUT so is federal governance.
Consent by the governed is essential, BUT majority mob rule is destructive.
Some regulation is needed, BUT excessive and arbitrary regulation is propsperitykiller.
Morals are good, BUT moralizing is best left to fools.
British culture and heritage is a good thing, BUT being subject to British rule is not.
It is the government’s job to enforce law and order, BUT it is important that the citizens can carry arms to provide for their own self-defense.
Freedoms of speech and assembly are key, IF the exercise of these rights is not directly harmful to others.
America, the greatest success story of modernity, is founded upon the daily implementation of these principles of non-absolutism; of constantly feeling for the middle road.
Interestingly, the idea of non-radicalism, of equilibrium, and of a system of checks and balances designed to constantly adjust this equilibrium, is a truly radical idea for most of human history as well as in the present time. Imagine if in 1492 Ferdinand and Isabella had said “Spain is Catholic, but our Muslim and Jewish subjects and heir unique cultures are very important to us.” Spain would not have been the last letter in the PIGS acronym, that’s for sure. Or how about if a couple of centuries later Cardinal Richelieu had decided that while France should be majority Catholic, it could easily contain within itself the Huguenot families of the Atlantic coast? The wealth of knowledge that was contained within these great ocean explorers and artisans would not have left for the Netherlands and for England and France would have been much richer and more powerful.
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Russia in particular has always been a country in search of radically centrist solutions. Its East-West dichotomy, the uneasy amalgam of the legacy of centuries-long Mongol occupation with its Viking roots and Westernized modernity, was at times the origin of some of the greatest works of art that humanity had ever produced. Writers like Pushkin, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, composers like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, painters like Chagall and Kandinsky, all combined the soul of the East with the scientific precision of the West. Politically, however, Russia could never replicate this success. The forest kingdom of Muscovy, with its cloistered women and heavily bearded boyars in long-sleeved kaftans was all Asia. Peter the Great paid no mind to the rich Asian heritage embedded in the very DNA of his subjects; he shaved their beards and forcefully aligned the indigenous Russian Orthodox Church with the Western practices of Byzantium. There was no balance in his approach, only single-minded determination to accomplish his goals in the shortest possible time.
Image by Fibonacci Blue
It is fitting therefore that it was in his eponymous city, the modern European city of Saint Petersburgh, built as it was by his feat and his force of will at the extreme west of the Russian Empire on the bones of Russian peasants, that the East took its revenge only two centuries later. Led by the half-Kalmyk Lenin whose facial features were unmistakably Mongolian, the Russian steppes reasserted themselves with a horrible vengeance. The fires they lit were not extinguished until the last descendent of the Rus Vikings was exterminated or exiled. The spiritual descendants of Peter’s great push westward were done for. Gone with them forever were Western efficiency, tolerance, civic discourse, artistic sensibilities and a millennium of one of the highest cultures the human race had ever produced.
Not coincidentally, the last time in history that Russia could claim parity with the United States that did not rely on thermonuclear payloads mounted on ICBM’s was in 1917. Today, Russia’s GDP is $1.283 trillion ($8,838 per capita) as compared to America’s $18.57 trillion ($57,566 per capita). Parity? Not even close. In fact, take away the nukes and the hydrocarbons, and Russia is not even, in the words of President Obama, a “regional power”; it is a third world country playing in the same shallow pool as Latin America and Africa. And yet prior to the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, with no nukes and with hydrocarbons playing only a minimal role in its economy, Russia was justly considered one of the five leading world powers, fully on par with Great Britain, France, Germany, and the US.
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Extremism kills. It is extremism that brought Russia to its knees and it is extremism that made sure that every villain in every movie has a German accent. The incredible success that is the United States of America relies entirely on the rejection of extremism in all its forms. The only asterisk that will forever be attached to the American project is the result of the Founding Fathers singular failure and the failure of too many subsequent generations to reject the extreme proposition that human slavery in any form is commensurate with civilization in its modern guise. This should be an enduring lesson in the blessings of radical centrism, but this lesson is now being severely challenged in America itself.
Americans of all stripes seem to have lost the critical ability of simultaneously adhering to two opposing points of view.
Any given sexual orientation should not be suppressed, BUT it should also not be promoted.
There are only two biological sexes, BUT I will respect your right to be identified as a different sex from your biological one.
Sexual advances are OK, BUT only when they are well-received and culturally appropriate.
Slavery was horrible, BUT no one alive today shares any blame for it.
Immigration is foundational to America, BUT controlling immigration for the good of American citizens is essential for prosperity.
A large bureaucracy is inevitable and essential in a large and complex society, BUT it must be subservient to elected government.
America was founded by “white” people of European descent, BUT it was never a “white” country unless you reject the notion that Africans are humans.
This inability to hold nuanced opinions has led to a simultaneous development of two counter-Constitutional movements in the US: The Deep State coup fed by an unholy alliance of big bureaucracy, big business, big entertainment, and a bunch of crazed social justice warriors, and the Sloppy Steve Bannon counter-coup resting on rotten foundations of residual white bigotry, real and imagined white oppression, and white nostalgia for what never was and never will be.
The mere fact that President Trump is constantly and viciously attacked by BOTH these extremist factions is proof that he carries within himself the true legacy of the Founding Fathers. His Battle of Stalingrad, the one decisive engagement in which he has the chance to turn the tide of fortunes in America from extremism back to compromise, will undoubtedly be the immigration policy debate that is now so hotly raging across the country. To Trump it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that no illegal aliens who committed no crimes outside of illegally entering the US, or illegally staying therein, or illegally obtaining employment, will be or can be deported. It simply is not possible for American Law enforcement to raid homes and businesses and remove normative people who lead normative lives. Not only is it logistically impossible, it is also contrary to the will of the majority of American citizens and hence it will never happen.
Image by Ralph Aichinger
It is equally clear to Trump that unchecked immigration, legal or illegal, or immigration that is designed to promote political agendas such as “diversity” or the dilution of certain voting blocs in key jurisdictions and their replacement with other voting blocs cannot be sustained any longer. So here we go, it is that ability to hold two opposing thoughts that is at play again: immigration is foundational and essential to America, BUT immigration must be controlled and optimized with respect to advancing the prosperity and the wellbeing of American citizens. Both the “they all must go back because America is white” and the “everyone is welcome and borders are fascist” crowds are manifestations of the deadly and un-American extremism that is the only thing that can ever bring America to its knees. Trump’s nuanced, centrist, and forward-looking approach is the true American Way. It is the ONLY way to the continuation of the exceptional experiment that is the United States of America.