Some simply can’t abide those whom they label “right-wingers”. Others can’t stand “left-wingers”. It is not uncommon for those of differing political opinion to lump each other into binary ideological groups for mass derision using the “winger” descriptor as a cudgel. Oddly enough, most of those who employ such terms do so based on false caricatures they have formed of those they feel stand on the opposite “wing”. All too often the thinking is, “You aren’t entirely on my wing, so you must be on the opposite wing”, with little to no consideration of potential middle or common ground on at least a handful of issues, or even the possibility of compromise on others. Those who use such terms are often admitting to being “wingers” themselves.
With all this talk of wings, it occurred to me that perhaps the political spectrum in this country might be thought of as one big passenger airliner at cruising altitude. We have some hard core progressives on the left wing trying to manipulate the control surfaces to cause the craft to roll to port, and a few hard core conservatives on the right wing trying to roll the plane to starboard. The cold and miserable folks scratching and clawing on the wings, however, are vastly outnumbered by those seated comfortably within the fuselage.
Those seated in the fuselage from nose to tail represent the vast majority of Americans who wish to go about their lives freely without the scheming and distractions of the destroyers and manipulators out on the wings. The pilot and crew are chosen from the passengers to fly the aircraft from the most skilled among them. Sure there is a small first class section, perhaps a business section, and economy class seating as we proceed toward the back of the plane. But the key here is that we are all free to move about the cabin at any time. The most important seats are those above the wings at the emergency doors, reserved for those who are willing to take responsibility for the safe evacuation of the remainder of the passengers in the event of an unexpected landing. These are those few among us like soldiers or firemen who put their lives on the line for all of us every day.
If we have too many pilots or overcrowding towards the front of the craft, the nose pitches downward and our decent is rapid. If we move or shift too many toward the back of the craft the nose comes up, we lose lift and altitude, and we risk a devastating stall. If we maintain free association and mobility among passengers, and limit the cockpit crew to a manageable size, we remain stable and level with the vast majority at the middle of the aircraft who also provide the bulk of the energy or thrust/lift to keep the whole craft airborne and on time to its destination.
Today on Newsvine I find myself in Row 21 seat A talking to the soldier in front of me in 20A, the emergency exit row. We are looking out our cabin windows at the creatures on the left wing, scratching and tearing at the flight control surfaces and engines, not caring to be part of the reasonable community of passengers in the fuselage. The passengers across from us in 20K and 21K are watching a similar horror on the right wing. Like William Shatner and John Lithgow before us, we’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone. But unlike those fellows, we need to remain calm and work together as we devise ways to shake those “wingers” off, or bring them willingly back into the main cabin, and keep them from destroying our engines and bringing down our once beautiful gleaming aircraft.