A NEW MOVEMENT SNEAKS
ONTO THE POLITICAL SCENE
There I was with my antique Philips cassette recorder, doing a secret interview in response to a provocative and unsigned note sent from my Contact page.
The man shifted nervously on his feet as he stood next to my rusted Volkswagen Beetle, his face obscured by a knitted scarf.
He was clearly self-conscious about the unstylish face wrapping, and explained apologetically that he hadn’t been able to find any of those Guy Fawkes masks. You know, the ones with that creepy mustached grin.
They’re favored by activists who want to look a little sinister while remaining anonymous. But with all the street protests happening these days, novelty suppliers in China have a hard time keeping up with demand.
“I like your blog,” he said, his voice slightly muffled by the scarf. “Your posts make a lot of sense. And there aren’t too many typos.”
“Thank you,” I replied. “I try to proof my stuff before I put it up.”
“So, I’m giving you first shot at announcing our new political movement.”
“What movement is that?”
He glanced furtively about. All was dark and still. “You’re aware of the Alt-Right and the Alt-Left?”
“We’re launching the Alt-Middle.”
“It’s for people who don’t agree with either of the other Alts. We’re not racists, and we’re not anarchists.”
“We don’t necessarily buy the idea of white privilege, but we recognize that black people have faced serious injustices, and a lot of folks are really burdened by history. The statues and all that. Some public symbols can be very distressing.”
“On the other hand, we believe in free speech, we honor tradition, and we reject violence and intimidation in politics. You know, like with those Antifa guys.”
“We also understand that sometimes government has to help people who are in genuine need. But we’re against Socialism, because all it does is keep everybody from being able to improve their own situations. It locks economic problems in place, and encourages corruption.”
“Let me stress this too: we embrace cultural diversity. Heck, America has always been culturally diverse. I’m extremely fond of hummus myself. But we stand for secure borders, and we think everybody who comes here should learn English, respect the Constitution, and buy into the American dream. Oh — and become a citizen before you vote.”
I nodded, reflecting for a moment on his words, while I checked the VU meter on my cassette recorder. “I gotta tell you,” I said, “this just sounds to me like what most Americans believe. What’s so Alt about your new movement?”
He chuckled slightly, and I glimpsed the contours of a smile behind the scarf.
“Well, to tell you the truth, it’s all about branding.”
“That’s right. You see, we’re the majority. We outnumber those other Alts by, like, millions. But even so, the media couldn’t care less what most Americans think. That’s why Trump supposedly keeps slipping in the polls. What you get on the news doesn’t reflect reality, because pollsters and journalists don’t ask the right questions or let ordinary people express themselves in their own way. Those man-in-the-street interviews on TV? They’re all distorted by editing. And any poll numbers you read are meaningless.”
“You may have a point there.”
“We figured that calling ourselves the Alt-Middle would add a little spice. Pique media interest. Put us on the network news. They go for things that sound edgy. And that way, maybe people’s real opinions might finally get a hearing.”
“Clever,” I said. “And I understand why you’re being so secretive. Nobody likes a truth-teller.”
“You got it.” He took another quick glance around the dark, secluded area. “So… Whaddaya say? Will you announce the Alt-Middle on your blog?”
“Consider it done.”