I am not involved in the political arena – never have been, never will be. That doesn’t mean I don’t follow what is going on, take an interest in the issues and exercise my constitutional right to vote each year. Of course I do all of those. So from one outsider’s position, I can offer these thoughts about how I view the state of our political system.
It seems to me that most of our country resides near the political middle – some leaning left, some leaning right, but basically the majority of our country is not so fanatical to realize the real value of compromise and the need for proper discourse of the issues to reach workable resolutions. So why is it that the extremes control our political culture? Clearly the loudest voice seems to get the attention these days and it is those extremes who have raised their voices. Because of this loud voice, it feels to me like the extremes are a much bigger contingent than is truly the case. But I honestly believe the middle has the power, but perhaps simply does not know how to use it. To put it mildly and bluntly, something is really screwed up.
Do you think our country’s forefathers thought that our Representatives and Senators would constantly be concerned with re-election, and therefore always pandering to the loudest voices who appeared to be the ones with power to keep them in office. I don’t. I believe they had much loftier goals in mind. Clearly the Senate was to have more power, given the 6 year terms, but the House was to be the voice of the people. So what went wrong?
Look at the Constitutional Convention – some of the most respected and opinionated individuals our country has known were in attendance, and it was quite clear there was no love lost between many of these men. Further, there was a huge difference of opinion over most, if not all of the issues; yet what resulted was a well debated, true compromise that created a governmental system that has shined as an example to many a nation over the past 225 years (not lost on this author is the fact that clearly these men did drop the ball and showed the lack of vision on the issues of slavery and gender equality).
I think these men would be quite disturbed and even disgusted by what we see today. These men did not pander to the public – they represented their constituency to the best of their ability, argued for what they believed in, BUT made sure to come to some agreement in the end. None got everything they wanted. But what resulted was the kind of compromise we certainly could use today.
I, too, am a bit sickened by what I see coming from Washington. Our Representatives and Senators pandering so much to the extremes that they are losing sight of where most of the country resides. I see Democrats insisting on new taxes as a means of deficit reduction. I see Republicans insisting on only cutting spending and no new taxes as a means of deficit reduction. Perhaps our Representatives and Senators should take a page from the playbook of our country’s forefathers. Lock themselves in a room and literally don’t come out until the job is done. We see them trying, but then they are all too willing to quit before a resolution is reached. They seem to give up before they have even started because it is the voice of the extremes whispering in their ears. Hard to believe they would listen to that voice rather than work out a compromise for the good of the country.
Maybe, required viewing for all Representatives and Senators should be “1776” the campy and somewhat cheesy movie version of the once Broadway hit. While dealing with the Declaration of Independence and not the Constitution, it tries to capture the heated debate over the issues, and it does instill a sense of respect and honor for what occurred those many years ago – a lesson each of our elected officials should be reminded of time and time again. And our elected officials should also be required to make a trip to the National Archives to see the documents- it really is an impressive historical sight. Hey, here’s a concept – they should be required to READ the documents, too. It is amazing what you can glean from reading the Constitution – you can sense the debate and compromise that went into creating it. Each of our Representatives and Senators should honor and respect that debate and compromise in the performance of their elected duties. It is really the only way I think our government can work. Without getting back to those core values, the extremes will just get louder – not more populated, but still louder, and that voice in our elected officials’ ears is what is causing our problems.
Time for the center to act. Regardless of party, if you believe in the Constitution, it’s history, and what it stands for, then become a force as part of the electorate. Vote for those not pandering to the extremes, but those willing to work for compromise in a system crying out for compromise. Don’t add to the extremes. If you disagree with a neighbor, learn about their position, try to understand it better. Put yourself in their shoes. It’s okay to disagree. But then work toward compromise. Stalemate is not an option when it comes to government.
Power to the middle!