The Middle of the Road – The Centrist’s View (revisited)

At least on tv, the world seems to be divided into two extreme camps on polar opposites of every issue. They’re the ones who get the press. They’re the ones we see screaming at the rallies. But if you really look at it, most of us live in the middle. Most of us stay on the couch and watch the people on the ends making all the noise.

I am so tired of living in a so-called RED state and being painted with that brush. Have we become completely one-dimensional in our politics that you’re either one thing or the other? The results of the presidential elections are presented in “winner take all” state colors shows big bunches of red in sparsely populated areas of the country and streaks of blue in densely populated urban centers. But the truth, which is always more than a few paragraphs into the story and therefore missed by most, is that all of the states are purple in one variation or another.

I did these color maps after the ’04 and ’08 preseidential elections. The colors only barely changed yet we had a completely different government. From the outside, after the 04 election, we were red and after the 08 we were blue. But all along, truth be told, we were purple.

In surveys published in Time and Newsweek in the year following the 04 presidential election, the vast majority of Americans identified themselves as more centrist in their thinking. The average American is a moderate, believing that issues are not black or white but most often gray. To say it another way, the answers to the problems are not usually red or blue but purple.

So that’s why this blog is here. It is a centrist view to offset the extremism. This is what it looks like here, in the middle of the road.

I was reading recently and came upon the words of a famous centrist Senator, Sen. Margaret Chase Smith. Back in 1950 she delivered her famous “Declaration of Conscience,” speech on the floor of the Senate in response to the mood of the nation during the red scare and the run up to McCarthyism (they didn’t call it that back then. Most of the people just stayed quiet and hoped that it would go away.) Her words were timeless. They are just as true today as they were then and they will continue to be for as long as extremism rules politics (and I fear that may be forever.)

She said,

“It is high time that we stopped thinking politically as Republicans and Democrats about elections and started thinking patriotically as Americans about national security based on individual freedoms.”

On the 20 year anniversary of that speech, during the unrest of the 70’s she was asked to revisit that speech and added this

“Extremists are forcing Americans to make a narrow choice between anarchy and repression. … It is time that the great center of our people, those who reject the unreasonableness of both the extreme right and the extreme left … to declare their consciences”

The people in the middle have to stop watching the ball fly back and forth over their heads. They need to stand up and become a part of the game. Americans in the center need to find their voice before the nation is irreparably lost.

The question asked on the website of the Centrist Party is clear, simple and to the point: “America is 70% Centrist. So why are we letting 15% from the left and 15% from the right control our nation? We need to support Independent and Centrist candidates, or risk losing another election to special interests.”

So here we are. 70% of us standing here in the middle wondering why it has to be such a crap fest all the time. One side gets in and the other has only the single duty or stopping anything that they want to do. The Right is better at being obstructionist because they tend to line up like soldiers, but the Democrats aren’t immune to the mind-set. They just can’t seem to get everybody on the same page on the same day. (there’s a joke in there somewhere about Senators being on the same page and the page filing a lawsuit with the ACLU but I’m going to leave it there for now.)

So stop just sitting there and wishing it were different. I don’t think anybody expects you to march or paint signs. You don’t even need to send money. What you need to do is support centrist candidates. Believe me, where the votes go, the politicians follow. There is the very real possibility that a movement to the middle from the voters would cause an outright fight for the middle by the right and left. The extreme fringes of both parties would be politically isolated, left on their small-minded islands and rendered irrelevant. Then they can hurl their insults and invective at each other while the rest of us get about moving forward.

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