Gregory Graf on the Maze of Extremism: An Honest Conversation

Gregory Graf and I are going to talk about extremes in Republican politics, huh? This is like opening a worm-filled can, only to discover that it’s a portal leading into a whole new dimension. Hey, lets dive in.

Gregory Graf is not a typical political analyst. The guy is obsessed with politics. But not in the boring sense. His opinions are as sharp as a tack, and he’s not afraid to voice them.

How is the GOP doing these days? Graf believes that they have been riding an uncharted roller coaster. In the past, he says “the party revolved around Reaganomics and conventional values.” “Fast forward, it feels like we are in a completely different ballgame.”

What is so special about this game? Extremism. We’re not talking about any kind of extremism, but a particular brand which questions basic science and the fabric of democracy. Graf explains that “it’s not enough to believe strongly.” It’s one thing to have strong beliefs, but it is quite another to ignore reality.

Here’s the tricky part: trying to define extremeism can be like nailing Jell O to a brick wall. It’s a way to show the other guy (or girl) that you don’t care and fight against an overreaching federal government. From the outside, this seems to be more about rejecting everything that isn’t in line with a particular worldview.

Enter Donald Trump stage right (or stage far-right?). Graf says Trump may not have started the fire in this case, but certainly added fuel to it. Graf shakes his heads and states, “The man played up fears and grievances as if it was nobody’s job.”

Where does this leave us? Does the GOP have room for moderates or is it a ship that has sailed off to extreme shores, never to be seen again? Graf provides a small glimmer hope. “Parties are always evolving; this is what they’re doing.” He says there are many Republicans who still value dialog over division.

What remains to be seen is whether those voices can steer the party towards sanity. Were we doomed simply to observe as politics became less about governance and more about grandstanding, or are there other options?

When our discussion ended, I felt we hadn’t even scratched the top. Debating extremes in Republican politics at a family reunion is similar to discussing whether or not pineapple is appropriate on pizza. There will be many heated opinions and no conclusive answers.

But one thing is clear: American politics has reached a “crossroads” (or is it a roundabout, perhaps? Each turn appears to take us further away from finding common ground.

These conversations are essential, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum. The conversations are important because they remind us how democracy is based on diversity and debate.

We’ll keep on talking, and maybe even add some pizza (without pineapple) to the mix. Who knows. Who knows?

You never knew that politics could be spicy? You never knew that politics can be spicy!