I believed in hope and change back in 2008, but it was the hope that we would come to elect a moderate president by 2012. I assumed a new political party would emerge. One did, just not the one I imagined. Back then, I reasoned that a switch from one extreme (Bush) to another (Obama) would ultimately drive the majority of voters back to the center. Fortunately I don’t make a career out of forecasting.
For the sake of the nation, I still wish I was right about a center party. The voice of the moderate has dwindled as polarization has increased rapidly over the last few years. We’ve seen this from the rallies of Glenn Beck and Jon Stewart, editorials disparaging one party or the other, the rise of the “birther” and Tea Party movements. Taken in total, we have managed to foster a divisive, not diverse, country.
Sadly this divisiveness has spread from national to local levels. Consider the loss of Blue Dog Democrats or moderate Republicans in the Senate. The Tea Party managed to pejoratively call moderate Republicans RINOs (Republicans in name only). It may help an agenda, but it doesn’t help a country. At least from where I sit it doesn’t.
The state of moderates fares no better at the state level. In Idaho, two moderate Republicans lost their chairmanships because they failed to support GOP leadership procedural votes. For what it’s worth, both Reps. Leon Smith, R-Twin Falls, and Tom Trial, R-Moscow, opposed the Luna-Otter education reform bill supported by the majority of Republicans.
The deterioration of a moderate voice ultimately harms national discourse. How should the public arrive at a conclusion about policy when the various news organizations spend more time chastising one another as biased than providing objective information? Liberals lambast Fox for being having a right wing agenda, and the right chastises NPR as a biased leftist news organization that sucks funds from the government.
I’m not saying Americans are too ignorant to make an informed decision; rather, the task becomes more complicated when the volume on each side is so loud.
During this budget debate, neither party, neither branch of Congress, nor the administration has decided to sacrifice political capital in order to keep the government running. One might make a case that Rep. Paul Ryan from Wisconsin has tried, but even his proposal ignores Social Security because it’s too politically risky.
One of the more reasonable voices to address fiscal policy and the future of our economy is The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform report “The Moment of Truth.” Every American ought to at least skim this report. Moreover, it’s the easiest piece of governmental / fiscal policy to read I’ve seen in some time.
Unfortunately, today it seems that our own biases coupled with the reinforcement of polarized politicians has left us stranded on an island of uncertainty. Until the hubris of the media and our politicians subsides, and until they place the country before any personal or party agenda, we will continue to spiral further into polarized parties.
You can reach Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @Tucker849.