One of the things wrong with today’s Congress, according to Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, is that people of differing political persuasions are viewing each other as enemies rather than adversaries. Whitehouse made his comments in a February 7 Stay Tuned podcast to former US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, Preet Bharara.
Enemy and adversary are synonyms, but in his senatorial way, Whitehouse was suggesting that whereas enemies need to be defeated, adversaries can be respected, and admired, and asked to sit at a negotiating table. In a peace conference, for instance, both sides want peace. There’s no win/lose, just either win/win (peace is achieved), or lose/lose (war ensues). It’s when combative parties look for win/lose situations that negotiations and progress become impossibly hindered.
Looking for Gray Thinkers
We are currently in an environment dominated by black and white thinkers who believe if they don’t win, they lose instead of looking for the middle ground. So perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s a burgeoning middle ground movement emerging as well called The Problem Solvers Caucus.
The caucus is made up of close to equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats who are considered part of the No Labels movement dedicated establishing a “new center,” and getting both sides of the aisle in Congress talking again. They may be on to something if, for no other reason, politics like everything else tends to regress to the mean.
What’s “Regress to the Mean” mean? For the non-statistically inclined, it suggests that as you continually measure things and the outliers appear, the next measurements will come closer back to the center, or average.
If Obama was considered an outlier simply for being the first African American President, and Trump is an outlier for being an outsider, then it seems very probably as the political pendulum swings will come closer to the center.
Some would argue Obama was not an extreme, but a relatively moderate Democrat certainly in comparison to Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialist movement. That doesn’t change the fact that the Tea Party perceived him as an extreme deviation from their norm – a middle class white President as leader of our nation. Some argue the reaction to him was racist. It may have been also a reaction to change happening too fast, or too radically.
Energizing the Majority Over Bases
Richard Nixon reintroduced the phrase The Silent Majority during the Vietnam era. It’s not clear if the majority was silent at that time versus the very vocal anti-war crowds protesting in the streets. Perhaps today’s majority has learned that silence is not golden and common sense gun advocates, polling at over 90%, are taking to the streets on March 24.
Polling is often incorrect in determining how Americans really feel, but voting is not. Voting is the way the majority is supposed to rule in a healthy democracy, and the reason voting – both in special and upcoming mid-term elections – is so important.
What can we do as citizens? Here are some Little Hinge suggestions:
- Vote in all elections — particularly special elections happening now and primary elections coming soon.
- Sign up with No Labels to hear their point of view on various issues, or Follow The Problem Solvers Caucus on Facebook.
- Listen to A.B. Stoddard’s No Labels Radio where she interviews both sides on many issues.
- Pick one issue and just keep reading. There is so much and too much political information out there. Start with one key issue and read one short article on the topic each day. Over time, you will finally feel more knowledgeable on the issue and can vote for the candidate who best represents you on at least that one important issue.