America is once again at a crossroad. There is no way to improve our economic situation and job creation without policy changes in Washington. With the current gridlock and distrust in DC, changes are very unlikely. Since America can only be governed by a consensus of the people, it is imperative that we break the gridlock in DC for the sake of our economy, jobs and international standing. There are only two ways to break the gridlock: 1. One of the two extreme ideologies dominates the other by huge margins; 2. Restore moderation, cooperation and trust.
Here are some excerpts from a recent Las Vegas Sun article:
Does the Cantor race suggest that American politics is irredeemably in the grip of two mutually hostile ideologies, one zealously conservative and the other rabidly liberal?
Not really. The Pew survey found plenty of evidence that a center still exists. One-fifth of all Americans are either consistently liberal or conservative, but that means that 80% are neither. On individual issues, Pew found that majorities on both sides actually held relatively moderate views.
So is a moderate revolt possible? Sure. All the 80% have to do is get fired up and passionate as their polarized neighbors and turn out for some primaries. But, that wouldn’t be very moderate, would it?
Are there signs of a revolt by the 80% not driven by ideology? It is too early to tell but the Brat and Cochran races may be early indicators that change is in the wind.
It appears that Virginia Professor David Brat upset Majority Leader Eric Cantor because he listened to the voters and focused on “Main Street” concerns, while Cantor was perceived as out of touch and too closely connected with Wall Street.
In Mississippi, Thad Cochran fought back to win his seat by reaching out to moderates and independents in his district. He even picked up some Democrat votes. This suggests there is potential for Republicans to expand their base, appealing to the 80% of general election voters by looking to the grass roots and ignoring ideology.
A factor in the Cochran race was the open primary process, which tends to favor more moderate candidates. More open primaries might just be what the nation needs. Open primaries would give voters a clearer choice between voting for ideology or for cooperation, which might lead to a government that functions as the Founders designed. Since 80% of Americans hold moderate views on issues, we may actually get more Americans participating in elections, too.
In 1854, Whigs and Democrats were gridlocked much as our political process is today and the needs of the nation went untended. This opened the way for a grassroots, original third party that quickly attracted national attention. These Republicans’ platform addressed the unmet needs of the citizens and they went on to victory, dominating for decades.
It would be interesting to give voters a platform choice similar to the 1854 platform based on today’s needs. The original Republican platform was predominantly economic in nature. There is enough common ground on many economic issues today to start work toward resolutions if ideology can be set aside. Each plank of a new National Interest Platform should reflect the outcome desired by the vast majority of Americans. To do this, we will need to ignore extreme elements in both political parties.
This platform could win vast support with the 80% who put solutions ahead of ideology and serve as a basis for seeking further common ground as civility and comity replace vitriol and anger. Will we need another 3rd party uprising from the center or can the existing parties reform the political system by changing their behavior?
Once sufficient public consensus is formed, we need to demand legislators find the common ground needed for a basis to agree. Today, polls indicate that sufficient consensus has formed on many important issues, yet Congress fails to work together. Elected officials shouldn’t be surprised when they are replaced by those promising to do so. It is up to us, the less vocal 80%, to elect more Professor David Brats who promise to remain focused on the local economy and jobs while working in the nation’s interest and sticking to the constitution.
The Founding Fathers were wise to set up a system where America can only be ruled by a consensus of citizens, in common agreement over goals and means. This is not the same as compromise, or the abandonment of principle for the sake of cooperation. Consensus, by contrast, is the search for, and achievement of, common ground. It means the setting aside of areas where we differ in favor of those where our interests overlap.
We can be sure that voter discontent will continue until our political system functions again. Let’s hope the seeds of such a political reformation are in process. Elections in 2014 and 2016 will tell which path America chooses; continued ideological fighting, or a government that functions for all Americans.
Frank Shannon served in the U.S. Army, was an engineering/operations manager for AT&T for 27 years, was the owner of a small manufacturing business for 23 years, served as Colorado Chair of the Coalition for a Prosperous America and moved to Mesquite in 2013.