“The Truth is Always in the Middle”
Today is the launch of the M-Spot Blog. On a regular basis I will be providing a laymen’s assessment of the current state of our politics. While the primary focus will be politics and public policy, we will also venture into the areas of community leadership and leaders.
Cutting to the chase… I’m launching into what I see as the challenges facing this country in the great partisan divide and the lack of leaders addressing these issues. There are five primary drivers of the shrill nature of our politics.
We don’t appreciate enough that the wide chasm of historical experiences based on race and class in America, has closed significantly.
We don’t fully appreciate the pain and significance of the historical chasm based on race and class in America.
We don’t take the time to truly educate ourselves on issues.
We never want to give the “other side” credit.
We think political parties lose because they are not liberal enough or conservative enough.
Embrace the Closing of the Chasm
Look…I get it. Issues of race and class in America ARE NOT perfect. There is still significant work to do. But, to ignore the tremendous progress made in this country is a mistake. Minimizing the progress perpetuates an “us against them” mentality. Actually, it has been many of “THEM,” who have helped ensure the progress that has been made to date. Embrace the closing of the chasm.
The CHASM is Closing, but There is Still a GULF
Too often those that have not been on the “bad side” of the chasm don’t appreciate the humiliation, heartbreak, intestinal fortitude and courage it has taken for people thought less of due to race and class to reach their current level of acceptance and success. Many will say, “I had nothing to do with that history.” And while that may be true, to be naïve enough to think it does not and should not affect policy-making today is simply unrealistic. I wish I could say everyone in 2017 is now on equal footing. But, quite simply, that is not the case. While we should embrace the progress toward chasm closure, we cannot close our eyes to the fact that there is still a gulf.
The (D)anger of Ignorance
Much of the public’s anger and blame game is based on pure ignorance of the facts. I believe the Affordable Care Act is the best most current example of a misinformed public railing against a public policy with many beneficial factors. For example, people will say they “HATE OBAMACARE” and want it repealed. However, in the next breath they like for their children to be able to stay on their health plan until age 26 and they LOVE not being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. Well….for the ill informed….that is OBAMACARE or the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT. All one and the same.
Politics is the Art of the Possible
One of the things I find astonishing in politics is the lack of willingness to give the other side credit for a good idea or good public policy achievement. Politics is the art of the possible. In the best of all worlds this typically means reaching a compromise deal somewhere in the middle. Compromise is not anathema... it is not abandoning your ideals… in most cases it turns out to be the best public policy.
Dems… How Quickly We Forget
I look at the recent special elections on the Democratic side of the isle. Particularly Ossoff in the Georgia 6th. To make the argument that he lost because he was not progressive enough is rubbish. Democrats in their heyday were not a “progressive” party as the word is used now (now meaning from my perspective extremely liberal). Generically speaking the Democratic base has cheered “progressive” candidates, watched them go up in flames and then talk with nostalgia about the days of Bill Clinton when Dems actually won elections. Telegram… Bill Clinton had a winning formula but he was not and is not liberal! Does anyone remember welfare reform? And Truth-in-Sentencing? You can fairly argue the overall impact of these policies positive or negative, but President Clinton had a winning formula and it was not progressive in the current sense. I would also argue that President Obama was not progressive. He had an ability unique to him to connect with voters, especially younger voters and his campaign (as well as Trump’s for that matter) was uniquely timed to take advantage of the politics of the day. Finally, NEVER forget that President Obama campaigned everywhere. And while he did not dominate rural America, he outperformed Kerry and Clinton in rural America. In other words, he mitigated the losses in rural areas keeping many states in play.
The Republicans… When You’d Rather Break Than Bend
Now the Republicans. They lament their inability to get things done in Congress even with control of both chambers and the White House and then proceed to go on wild right wing policy tangents, none of which have a snowballs chance of passing. And oh by the way, they repay those who could effectively broker deals with ouster (remember Speaker Boehner, remember Speaker Gingrich).
So…with all that…WELCOME TO THE M-SPOT. The truth is always somewhere in the middle…