Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Seth Chalmer

The problem with ideologues of both the left and the right is that they're really more interested in team vs. team, Red vs. Blue, then about identifying and solving the actual problems.

But I think holding up "Centrism" or "Moderation" as the Correct Position is also flawed, because it still presupposes that some sector of the political spectrum is generally correct. What ideologues forget is that there is no Correct Position. Nothing is that simple.

I think there are many of us who are moderate on some issues, far right on some, and far left on others. What on earth do we call ourselves? I can't be an official Moderate if on some issues I want to fight tooth and claw. But I can't be a proper ideologue if on some issues I am deeply torn and eager to work something out, as described.

I think all of us who are interested in politics (myself included) are often far too interested in self-definition for our own (or anyone's) good.


Seth - self-definition isn't (or shouldn't be) an end in itself (though certainly a lot of blogging, all our "ten this and that" lists, is narcissistic). A self-definition, if it doesn't harden into "Yay team," is something that can bring people together for the purposes of action. I liked Michael's definition -- though there may be a better label for it than "moderate" or "centrist" -- in that, like yours, it's not about a fixed set of positions but about an appreciation for complexity, a refusal of the slogan/sound bite (even in an age where that's the coin of communication), and a genuine interest in each other's point of view -- the only starting point for practical compromise.


How about The Middle Majority?


At certain times, one does have to make a choice and in critical situations, this is rarely a moderate position. For example, in wartime, is the conscientious objector a moderate? I don't think so. It is a passionate position (which I happen to agree with).

Concerning the very good point that Reason and Civility aren't seen as sexy as warfare, explosions etc. I think that this situation could be changed dramatically if as much attention and ingenuity was put into "selling" (ie imaging, promoting, inventing) R & C as is put into selling their opposites. Making them sexy rather than merely worthy or boringly do-goodish. For example, not so long ago, being vegetarian was the province of the sandal-wearing dull, earnest and preachy brigade. Today, thanks to commercial interests having jumped on the bandwagon, it has become sexy and organic is practically synonymous with orgasmic - the beautiful people have taken it up. I think the same thing could happen to R&C - let reason and civility become the new rock & roll!

Seth Chalmer

Amba, I agree that self-definition can certainly be useful, and even necessary. I guess I'm just frustrated by the label options currently available. But your point is well taken: that the embrace of complexity, reasoned dialogue and practical compromise are well worth the creation of a new political term, and perhaps even of a new political alliance. Of course, such an alliance would reject the sort of lock-step, talking-points politics that grip both major parties today.

Many of the refreshingly independant politicians who earn broad respect (McCain, Giuliani, etc.) are described as mavericks, and I like that label. But we can't simply have a Maverick Party; it's a contradiction in terms. The Dialogue Party has no oomph. The Complexity Party is a tongue-twister...

I say bring back the Bull Moose Party.

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