Squeezed By What? Political discourse has been rancorous since the invention (or infestation) of politics in ancient times. It is said that Cicero once called Plutarch "...a puffed up, toga-clad windbag who fancies himself … see full wiki
It is *not* your job to convert me to your political extremes...
May 7, 2012
I generally steer clear of political books... mostly because I'm fed up with *both* sides. Political humor is still OK, however. And if both sides are being skewered, so much the better. I was asked if I was interested in reading and reviewing Squeezed: Rear-Ended by American Politics by J. C. Bourque, and the premise was enough to get me hooked. And the premise is? Ultra-conservatives and ultra-liberals are both the same, in that they are convinced that they have all the answers, and *you* need to buy into their logic or else you're an uninformed idiot. Those of us in the middle (the Middles) have just one thing to say to them... go away. Of course, Bourque puts it much more bluntly and colorfully than I do, but the feelings are the same.
Bourque's style is what makes this a fun read. He's blunt, colorful, and funny. The word "curmudgeon" would come close, but he doesn't appear to be old enough (yeah, I know there's no age qualification to be a curmudgeon... just work with me here). He sees American politics as seriously flawed and/or damaged, and most of that comes from the fringe elements on both ends of the political spectrum. They have a very black-and-white view of what is correct, and they expect everyone to agree with them. There is no room for moderation and compromise, and in order for them to win, the other side must lose. There's no desire to discuss and learn from others, as they already have you stereotyped into their neat categories so you can be converted to the true view of how things are. If you happen to be in the middle and you haven't made up your mind, *both* sides turn on you as you must be incapable of understanding the truth of the situation, and it's their job to make their agenda *your* agenda. In reality, the Middles just want to be left alone to live life and deal with the multiple hues of grey that make up every issue that exists. We don't believe that either side has been blessed with or found the one right answer to solve everything. You don't know us, you don't care to know us, we didn't ask to hear your biased message or talking points, so please forgive us if we tell you to get lost.
Bourque doesn't attempt to present his views with any degree of academic rigor. Squeezed is a rant against the current political scene, and he knows it. He doesn't pull punches, and there's decent chance he'll offend just about everyone at some point in the book. But it's important to remember that he's not against people holding views based on however or whatever they choose to believe. The request is that you recognize that *everyone* has the same freedoms (of speech, religion, etc.) that you do, and you need to understand that those freedoms aren't restricted to those who happen to agree with you. Most of us don't want to hear your far-left/far-right rantings, so keep them to yourself.
I suppose you could make the point that by writing a book like this, Bourque is trying to convert people to his view much like the political extremists are. In my opinion, it's different in that he's not trying to get someone to convert to a particular set of political beliefs. He just wants people to understand that life is not made up of a series of for/against issues, so don't make it your goal to convert everyone. You hold your view, I'll hold mine, and let's deal with the way things really are, instead of the way you want them to be divided up.
Also as an FYI... I'm assuming his "One More Thing" at the end is tongue-in-cheek. If not, then it's WAY out there and would place him on the fringe of just about any "solution" I could ever think of.
If you're up for a entertaining political rant that doesn't seem to be covered in any other media outlet, Squeezed is worth reading. If you want a carefully considered alternative to political extremism, this isn't it. It's more like the scene from Network where people yell out their windows... "We're as mad as ****, and we're not going to take this anymore!" Unfortunately, the people who need this message the most are the ones who will be most offended by it.