If you’ve engaged in political activity or debate for longer than, say, a week, chances are someone thinks you’re an extremist. If your activity occurs or draws attention on social media, chances are someone has called you an extremist.

And guess what: you probably are!

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John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member.


(1) comment


As Hood alludes to, it is vitally important how questions are posed in a survey--but also how the results are editorialized. I easily and quickly found a counter-example suggesting that two-thirds of Americans actually support the rights of transgender youth, including their ability to access gender-affirming care: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/new-poll-shows-americans-overwhelmingly-oppose-anti-transgender-laws. With enough time, I could probably find different surveys that appear to contradict each one of Hood's data points here.

But is popularity really the best way to determine what is extreme; what is righteous and good? Or is it the human toll of a given policy's consequences and the suffering that may result? After all, segregation had broad popular support in the Jim Crow South, and Martin Luther King Jr. was deeply unpopular amongst most Americans during his lifetime. Just see the 1966 Gallup poll here: https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/16/politics/martin-luther-king-jr-polling-analysis/index.html. In fact, conservatives like John Hood are the often the loudest advocates of undemocratic Madisonian institutions like the US Senate and Electoral College, praising their subversion of majoritarian "mob rule." Given this glaring ideological inconsistency, we can safely assume that popularity is not Hood's actual guiding principle.

So we have to ask: what is the moral principle we do wish to follow in these and other social and political issues? It could be emancipation: advocating for civil rights, equity, and justice. Or it could be reaction: an unending backlash against any improvement of material conditions for those with less wealth, opportunity, and political power.

I know what set of principles I believe to be the most righteous, and it's not always the most popular.

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