In the study of sociology there is a phenomenon called the pendulum swing, based upon a scientific principle discovered by Galileo in 1602, that is, the pendulum swings as far to the left as it does to the right, until it eventually balances out in the middle and stops. When I was a little girl, my great uncle had a huge grandfather’s clock that dominated the house each hour on the hour by chiming out the time while the pendulum swung ceaselessly. During those years, the smooth swings of that old clock’s pendulum was a visible sign of stability and predictability, as the steady swing from one side to the other signaled balance.
When the pendulum swings too far from center in the political climate, it is never a good sign; instead it is usually a precursor to dramatic or extreme change. In the case of the American political scene since the years 2006-2007 the debated beginning of the Great Recession that has led to the near collapse of the financial institutions and created a financial atmosphere of consumer distrust. The symptoms of political imbalance became pronounced as the Tea Party faction of the Grand Old Party (GOP) of Republicans sprung up like mushrooms loudly proclaiming a need for change to the extreme right of center while Democrats opted to swing further left of center while the majority of Americans only hoped to survive the aftereffects of the two extreme stances.
Who was right? The Left or the Right, of perhaps the question is who was most wrong, or off center from what would be best for the country as a whole? Angry debates ensued between both sides as Sara Palin announced, before her grand demise as Queen of the Tea Party Hill, “The GOP is through” that is, if they did not listen to the Tea Party. In effect, the intended meaning was that the Right was right and the Left was wrong. The only definite in the answers to these questions lie on the passing of time as each side plays out in the political theatre.
The pendulum has swung many times in the past, during the early days of the American Revolution as England fought to reclaim a renegade breakaway to its bosom only to find the renegades had found a new and healthier balance for themselves and would not be dissuaded from new freedoms. The era of Women’s Rights, Prohibition, Slavery and Civil Rights, have each elicited the pendulum swing extremes before reaching a more satisfactory balance.
Once again, we face a new era of rebalancing as the pendulum swings again.