I’m not the only one that has noticed the extreme polarization of our nation’s politics. There used to be a middle. In the primaries, Republicans leaned to the right, Democrats leaned to the left, but once the nominations were made by each party the candidates “danced” to the middle to attract voters. The majority of our populace were not way over to the left or right, but somewhere in between. Only a small percentage of people were extreme liberal or conservative, and there were several different degrees of each. It seems to not be that way anymore.
The 2000 Presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by only a few hundred votes in one state. Many are unsatisfied that we know the actual results. Our Congress is split nearly 50/50 right down the middle between Republicans and Democrats, and nearly every vote is decided by a margin of 51 to 49% (or less). There’s a lot of talk about “crossing the aisle” on particular issues, but when all is said and done there is often more said that done.
We used to find middle ground. There used to be shades of grey on issues, but that’s not what Americans are looking for these days. We want everything black or white. It’s right or it’s wrong, and not just a little right or wrong. Each opinion, each decision we face is either a panacea of wonderful or the worst mortal sin every to face a legislative body. It seems like extreme positions on every issue are the only positions acceptable. This leads to a lot of finger pointing, name calling, and the application of labels that often don’t apply. It has brought our political process to a near gridlock. Just this summer the movie Swing Vote set the stage for an election that was to be decided by one single voter. How close are we to that becoming reality?
The only solution is for people to work together and find some common ground. We need a large number of Americans to realize that McCain and Obama have strong points, and that neither is the anti-Christ. Both candidates have ideas to solve the same problems. The election campaign doesn’t have to be Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Our Congressional leaders don’t have to cast a ballot for Y or N based on the R or D next to their name, and we as the voting public need to let them know that. That’s not the message they’ve been getting. We’ve been taking sides on every issue for years like we’re fighting a war, but in a sense we’re all on the same side. I’m not proposing we do away with the two party system, we just have to find common ground somewhere. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, we must join or die.