by Ellen Brandt, Ph.D.
Extremists have become so loud, they’re deafening. And because they shout in perfect sound bites, the media birddog their every rant, however irresponsible or outrageous.
But we believe the political tide’s about to turn with a vengeance. No matter their party affiliation or lack thereof, Americans are disgusted with those who harass to harass, obstruct to obstruct, tear down to tear down.
Compromise, consensus, bridge-building, and respect for differing viewpoints have been the hallmarks of American life as long as there’s been an America. We’re certain they will be again.
Between those who think NO government might be best and those who think ALL government would be Heaven . . . . .
Between people who find the notion of the Wild, Wild West romantic and people who want a Trusty Sheriff on every block . . . . .
Between citizens who admire the Robber Barons of old – and their untaxed fortunes – and others who relish the thought of a Perpetual Dole . . . . .
Between visionaries who think there’s a perfect, pristine Utopia of the Right and opposing seers who envision a perfect, pristine Leftist Paradise . . . . .
Between the Ranters and the Ravers, the RINO-Accusers and DINO-Accusers, the Shouters and the Shout-Louders . . . . .
There are The Rest of U.S.
Call us Centrists. Call us Moderates. Or call us the Sane Majority.
Critics of the Center always begin by trying to brand us as non-committal, tentative, and eager to please, like hosts or hostesses at one big political dinner party.
The latter allusion does suit us, although most would prefer the image of a Big Tent to a Big Fete. But certainly, an aura of cordiality and sociability define most Centrists, since we encourage discussion instead of preaching, conversation rather than confrontation.
But for our critics’ “non-committal,” substitute “thoughtful.” Change the “tentative” to “balanced.” And replace “eagerness to please” with “eagerness to listen” or “eagerness to solve hard puzzles.”
Most Centrists think our deliberate character – and penchant for deliberation – is an admirable trait, demonstrating a considerate and intelligent weighing of possibilities. It is not a weakness, but a strength.
So, to the oft-asked question, “What do we believe in?” here are some answers most Centrists would have no trouble agreeing with:
*** We believe in encouraging a constant, ongoing conversation among currently opposed parties – and Parties – even on difficult issues. “Preaching to the choir” and ignoring everyone else is decidedly not our style.
***We believe in building bridges wherever we can, reaching out to even the most hard-nosed and recalcitrant opponents. “My way or the highway” is not a phrase that resonates well with us.
***We believe that litmus tests belong in chemistry lab. We think making one pet issue, however important to you, the be-all and end-all of one’s political participation is a very bad idea. And insisting that one issue be a test of other people’s political “correctness” or “purity” is an even worse one.
***We believe it’s possible to reach viable consensus on even the most thorny, long-standing points of contention. In this sense, we are clearly optimists.
***We believe demonizing one’s political opponents is not only unhelpful, it’s extremely harmful to the fabric of our political life and culture.
***And Yes, we believe that politics should strive to construct a Big Tent, encouraging the greatest possible citizen participation. Everyone who wishes to become part of our nation’s political life and take part in its political discussion should be welcome to do so, courageously and freely, without fear of bullying, character assassination, or reprisal.
Tell Us What You Think:
Have American politics become too strident and polarizing? Why do you think this is so?
Are we in the U.S. fed up with this polarization and primed for a rebellion from the Sane Majority in the Center?
Are you disgusted with the manner in which moderates from both major Parties, as well as some declared Independents, have been raked over the coals by extremists for seeking to reach consensus on difficult issues?
How can we change the entire tone of political discussion and debate? And are the media at least partly to blame?
If you are a local official or candidate, how are you putting Centrist principles to work in your own political endeavors? Please let us know.
For the next story in this series, 1,000 Zealots Versus The Sane Majority – Why So Many Political Polls Are Wrong, see: http://wp.me/PHjxC-m
For Dr. Brandt’s bio and more about her work as an Internet publisher, see About This Site: http://newcentristera.wordpress.com/about/
For her already-influential blog Baby Boomers-The Angriest Generation, go to: http://angriestgeneration.wordpress.com
For EllenInteractive, her diverse and diverting blogsite, see: http://elleninteractive.wordpress.com
To join the new Centrists Group at Linked In, click on: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2431825&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr
To join the new Centrists Twibe at Twitter, go to: http://twib.es/Centrists