May 2, 2013

Alan Caron: Beware of ceding the town square to politics of paranoia

While the far left has its share of crackpots, the right lays claim to almost all the trophies.

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While they're relatively harmless -- unless they get power -- they still manage to create division and wreckage around them.

They love nothing more than dominating public meetings and online forums, hurling loud accusations and malicious insults, and by doing so have become experts in the art of bullying and intimidation.

And they're miraculously always both right and blameless. As the education philosopher Robert Hutchins once said, "You know you've got (paranoia) when you can't think of anything that's your fault."

If there is a danger that these folks represent, it's this one: They can drive talented, thoughtful and caring people out of politics altogether. But ceding the town square to paranoid politics is exactly the wrong response. It gives in to intimidation and chest-thumping and allows democracy to become a contest over volume and absurdities.

All at a time when what we most need is a more civil discourse, reliable facts and the ability of everyone, including the meek, the good-hearted and the truly powerless, to be heard.

Alan Caron is a principal of the Caron & Egan Consulting Group. He also serves as the president of Envision Maine, a nonpartisan organization that promotes Maine's next economy. He can be reached at:


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