The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a statesman of the old school. The Senator from New York was a Democrat, but he also served loyally in Republican administrations. He was liberal politically, but he articulated positions that would now be called socially conservative (such as the horrific consequences of having children out of wedlock). Steven Pearlstein reviews a collection of his letters and cites this haunting warning:
In a resignation letter he never sent to Nixon, Moynihan complains that “the extremes of left and right have joined in a dance of death” around “the presidency and every other institution of order and reason in American society,” exploiting society’s divisions for “short-term, narrow, shallow purposes.”
“The extremists of the left and right need each other, complement each other, strengthen each other,” he wrote, creating a symbiotic relationship that threatened “the quality, and ultimately the survival of the American democracy.”
He’s right, isn’t he, about the way the far right and the far left feed off of each other? And, whether you are a conservative or a liberal, can you see how the extreme ends of both spectrums, playing off of each other, can endanger the country?