I keep hearing about two Americas. Perhaps nowhere has that been more clearly demonstrated than the venomous debate over the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination.
I want to suggest (or perhaps reassure is the better word) that there are not two Americas. There are three. Unfortunately those of us in the middle are nowhere near as loud as the two opposing and cantankerous wings. This country is suffering because the long-too-quiet middle is being pulled toward one extreme or the other. I implore those of you on that path, don’t let it happen! Don’t abandon us. We need the middle to rise up if we are to keep this union together and strong. We need to make the middle ground a viable option or we will continue down a path of stalemate and paralysis, leading to the visceral discourse we see in our legislative circles. This means more than avoiding joining a radical wing in the debate. We need to start to pull the hard set, my-way-or-nothing wings back to the middle.
Our election system, country-wide, is skewed to give the radical and energized fringes a stronger voice than the larger number of sensible individuals who make up the middle because the vocal minority is controlling our primary elections. If we strengthen the voice of the middle in the primaries we will get more moderate candidates in office who can actually cross the aisle to get things done. We lose politicians like Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who are willing to seek compromise, because they can’t win primaries. We need to amplify the voice of the third America, the one that appreciates compromise and doesn’t see the world in black and white.
Here’s an idea for a small step to start to change our country for the better. If you self-identify as a moderate voice, write to your Maryland representative and ask “Why aren’t independents allowed to vote in the primary election for the candidate they choose?” And keep asking! We should not be electing representatives of a party. We should be electing representatives of the people. Give us all an equal voice and we will help create an environment more conducive to collaboration, progress and shared success.
Hello middle: Time to wake up and begin to pull our weight!
Steve Sullivan, Catonsville