Extreme partisan gerrymandering has left the vast rationale of the middle with ever-decreasing representation. Matched to a national primary system catering to activist party elements, too often we send party fringes to power rather than party moderates.
We all know the frustrating result: gridlock and forever infighting paralyzing the nation.
Ours is a period of political rhetoric designed to anger, and scare-tactic motivate folks further toward the divisive fringe. Fringe leaders usually lead the news, lead the way, and pull us in directions the more grounded center would rather avoid.
Yet, there’s always a bridge too far, a move too radical, a personality so debased, that the “quieter majority” will wake up and reject these from our system. While Richard Nixon was wrong about who the “silent majority” ultimately proved to be, his contention of a silent majority awakening wasn’t far off.
That majority woke up and wanted out of Vietnam and pushed until they got it…
There exists a large mainstream in America that consists of all our diverse peoples and cultures. There is a huge general common ground between us. Most do want the same things, more or less.
And, more or less, those things aren’t on the fringe that dominates our news.
A large majority of Americans don’t want a single, Texas-based judge pulling an early-term pregnancy termination pill off drugstore shelves across the entire country. Most don’t want a single Texas judge telling them anything about their most intimate decisions.
And while most Americans dislike the notion of abortion itself, still most recognize abortion rights are important in medical, criminal and early-term situations. A significant majority agree on this very personal issue.
Most Americans have tired of hearing every day of another mass shooting. We’re exhausted and fed up, and we want it to stop.
While most favor gun-owning rights, most also want reasonable restrictions of meaningful background checks, real limitations against persons with violent, criminal and mental illness histories. Most want restrictions on the types of weapons available. Most just want common-sense rules to protect society while allowing reasonable individual gun rights.
Most just want compromise.
Most Americans support LGBTQ rights. Almost everyone wants equality in society. Most also want fairness in sports maintained for the men and women competing within their respective genders. “Competition” being the point of completive sports – the fair aspect must be maintained.
Most realize privacy and appropriateness in vulnerable settings is necessary.
Most Americans have fully tired of tolerating homelessness and the associated crime and community degradation. Most are done with politicians who, no matter how much money is thrown at the problem, dither and waste and accomplish almost nothing – or less.
Most don’t want homeless suffering tolerated or normalized.
Most want our kids to all get strong, balanced educations, filled with science, facts, real history and intellectually challenging reading. Most believe schools are for learning, not indoctrination. Most want kids sufficiently educated to make their way in the fast-moving international world in which we live.
Most want a world-beating education for all America’s kids.
Almost all want a fair justice system; one that is unbiased, balanced and speedy. We don’t want to continue to lead the advanced world in criminal lockups. That’s a bad rap on the Land of the Free. But we’re tired of catch-and-release, gang intrusion into neighborhoods, and increasing drug deaths. We want real justice reform that gets to the root of our social problems with solutions that work – while simultaneously protecting our citizens appropriately.
Ironically, the root cause for continued contention over these issues and more is contained in our common value of extolling the rights of the individual over the rights of the collective.
By design, our nation extols individual rights. But pressing extremes of the individual has us battling each other rather than battling our common pressing problems.
It may be unpopular in our ultra-polarized nation, but oh please, bury the hatchets. Let’s wake up as a quiet majority and reach for our common ground. Let’s demand compromise as a virtue and not an abhorrent abandonment of party loyalty. Let’s ignore further culture wars and culture-warring politicians.
Let’s decide our greatest virtue is to just get constructive things done – fair and just, for all of us.
Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.