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Fanning the Flames: Is Extremist Politics Destroying America?

ReasonTV recently interviewed John Avlon who is promoting his new book entitled, "Wingnuts, How The Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." In the interview, Avlon does a nice job of identifying an underlying problem in modern American politics by pointing out that our political discourse, fueled in no small part by the mainstream media (this includes Faux News), has been reduced to black and white, or, if you prefer, red and blue, absolutist support of one team (conservative) or the other (liberal). He points out that independents are the fastest growing political affiliation in America, as opposed to Democrats or Republicans. I think he is fair in his assessment that most Americans are a combination of fiscally conservative coupled with social liberalism.

However, I have a couple of issues with his choices of examples of extremists in politics and the media. He cited Alan Grayson as a left-wingnut and Michelle Bachmann as a right-wingnut as examples of wingnuts in politics. He then identified Keith Olbermann as a left-wingnut and Glenn Beck as a right-wingnut in the mainstream media. Avlon is correct that these individuals are some of the loudest mouthpieces for their respective political affiliations, but there is a major difference between these examples of left-wingnuttia and right-wingnuttia. Grayson and Olbermann, for all of their faults, aren't bullshitters. We may or may not agree with their opinions, and that's fine, but they don't make shit up about their political opponents that simply isn't true. (I tried to find examples of Grayson and Olbermann making shit up, but my search was fruitless except for - wait for it... wait for it... a few right-wingnut websites that equate disagreement with themselves with falsehood.) Bachmann and Beck, on the other hand, don't have a goddamned foot in reality.

And, just for fun: At the outset of the interview, I wonder if Avlon inadvertently juxtaposed "unite us" with "divide us" (?).

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