Friday, September 05, 2008

Extreme Centrist Politics

John McCain, Barak Obama, Sarah Palin and Joe Biden:

Thank you all for the good shows on television the last two weeks with the Republican National Convention and the Democrat National Convention.

Fun to watch, but did either side notice both events were similarly partisan in theme? It's okay (that is why you have your conventions), but please quit thinking your side somehow did something special that appealed to the center. Both shows were very similar productions when I really think about it. I am looking for something more from someone.

I am just a regular guy who wants to be inspired. See below:

I recently discovered my 8th grade social science report from Foothills Junior High School (now Foothills Middle School) about the 1980 presidential election. Our teacher, Mr. Burndt, enthusiastically taught his students about the power of the political process. He made us daily watch the television news, read newspapers and magazines, collect political cartoons, analyze the positions and determine whom to support. We had to explore our minds and develop our predictions. I suggested that Ronald Reagan would win by a small margin (well, I was right, just his margin was bigger than I predicted).

I vividly remember the fall semester of 1980 and the excitement with which my classmates and I collected our information and developed our opinions. I received an A+ on my "Election Binder" project, and have ever since enjoyed the imperfect, but wonderful, system that we have in the United States of American for selecting our president every four years.

Mr. Burndt made it very clear that throughout our lifetimes there would be candidates whom we support.... and those whom we oppose that would find their way to the White House. He wanted us all to remember to respect the process and the office (even when we did not like the individual candidate).

But Mr. Burndt also required respect for those fellow citizens who had opposing views. He said that in America everyone has the right to their candidates and positions on the issues. He cautioned us to never feel superior toward others, as everyone in our country gets an equal vote.

This simple lesson has hung heavy in my mind for nearly three decades, and it makes me very sad when people from both parties go negative with personal attacks. In the end, we each are equal to cast one vote. End of story. Disagree, but honor each other for being American.

He believed that without respect our political system was less pure. While there has been mudslinging since the days of our founding fathers, I agree that in 2008 we need a big dose of respect be spoon fed to both parties (and those far right and far left bloggers, reporters, and other self-appointed leaders). Those in the middle, who will determine this election, should be demanding that both parties step up and fight this election on the issues.... not in the gutter. I believe that voters are craving the debates this time around more than ever before. We are excited about the people, and now want to hear specifics about what they would do if granted the honor of the White House.

Twenty-eight years ago our country was divided on a variety of social, economic, domestic and international issues. My 8th grade binder included a list of the topics that I found were on the minds of those who were voting in that year. The problems of 1980 are not any different than the problems of today (except that nobody is promoting the ERA these days).

My project stated the following issues as the ones that would influence voters:

Income Tax Cuts
Balanced Budget
Social Security
Job Programs
Middle East
China Policy
Foreign Trade
Military Spending
Oil Shortage
Nuclear Power
Equal Rights Amendment

Scary huh? The more things change, the more they stay the same. We have had both Republicans and Democrats in the white house and congress since that time, and it is still the same list of problems. This is a powerful message folks. The Republican and Democrat parties have spent so much time trying to win elections and powerful political tug of wars that they have ignored the issues that needed attention for almost thirty years ago. People should be disgusted and scream at our leaders, but instead every four years we run to the right or the left and line up behind one of the partisan candidate and blindly follow through the election.

Why have those of us in the middle not demanded real solutions instead of more partisan talk?

I have recently become disenchanted with politics. I used to get very excited about our presidential season every four years, but for the past 16 years I have watched the partisan bickering reach levels that make me sad. I think the Democrats and the Republicans are co-conspirators in this travesty, and yet the true partisans I know will point their fingers at the other camp (even though most know they share the blame). I want to see a leader who says "ENOUGH! Shame on both parties!"

While I have traditionally been on the Republican side of the line, I have always been in "the center". I want to be an "independent", but there are no "leaders" for independents, and the media and political operatives only see "red states" and "blue states". One must pick a side or be invisible.

A year ago I purchased the URL "", in hopes that former Virgina Governor Mark Warner (D) would have run for president (that URL is parked for now with hopes for a future run by this candidate). But my guess is that he is not far enough left on key issues to win his party's nomination, so his candidacy is probably left on Fantasy Island.

There is no "ORGANIZED MIDDLE" in the United States, which means that most people end up on a side or become apathetic. This leaves many people I know feeling lost and unconnected to the presidential political process I learned to love and respect in my 8th grade year. If a candidate could capture the hearts and souls of the middle, they win a landslide. But one cannot organize the middle, because by its nature it is all over the map in an already fragmented world.

A friend recently defined my politics as "Extreme Centrism". He was doing so with a laugh, but it hit me that there is intense passion from the extreme left and the extreme right, but passion does not exist much for those in the center. As I watched the national conventions of both major parties it was wonderful to see the loyalists caught up in the support of their candidates. I believe we all want to feel as strongly as those who attend conventions, but few ever seem to have that same level of electricity in our connection to our leaders.

I remain undecided about this election, and have been aggressively watching both sides for better and worse. The attacks and two-faced propaganda snips and slaps that take place also turn off many in the population. Both camps haul out the examples of the others inconsistencies and other problems, while blindly pretending their own candidates are above the crap. The far right and far left continue to vomit upon us because nobody can figure out a better way to win an election.

We hear a lot about change.... but real change is still elusive. Hello...we are waiting.

"The Organized Middle" and extreme centrism politics is my dream. The rule in this "fantasyland" (I know it is not going to happen, but in this country a boy can dream big!) is that respect must reign.

After all, if we want the rest of the world to respect America.... Americans must respect each other first.

Have A Great Day.




Anonymous said...

The other similarity with this election and 1980 is the Jimmy Carter was an unpopular failure just like George W Bush. However, find a democrat who will say that publicly. Nope, he and Ted Kennedy are heroes. They ignore the scars on their icons, but want the world to see the worst in republicans (the republicans do the same thing to the dems).

You have hit on something here, but nobody will listen to you.

Anonymous said...

Very true. My partner and I talk about this quite often. The media doesn't really have a "center" commentariat (unless you count the Independent populist Lou Dobbs) either. I really think this country would benefit from the creation of a new party or two.


thomsinger said...

Ha ha ha ha ha. Today I have been told by two different people who have read this post that I have already made up my mind.

One said they felt I was clearly leaning toward voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin.

The other said that I clearly was favoring the Barak Obama and his message of change.

I am laughing, as I have NO IDEA what I will do in two months. I am watching not only the debates, and policy stances.... but I am also curious as to how both campaigns handle the tight rope of the campaign. How do they react toward the other side and the fringe cooks on their own side of the line (I secretly want one candidate to tell his own far left or far right extremists to "JUST STOP!" They never would in a million years, but one that did would take a big step toward earning my vote).

thomsinger said...

This post has prompted the most direct email messages (but not that many comments on the blog) that I have ever received from any other post in 3 1/2 years. It is interesting. All are friendly, but seem to prove that politics is a very personal and emotional topic...even others in the "Undecided Ranks" cannot agree on what will sway their vote.

An organized middle cannot exist, which will make it interesting to see how each side works to win voters. With the bases lined up in place.... the battle beings.

These messages include notes from friends and strangers on the left and the right who are offended by my post in some manner. (One said I come off as "hollier than though" in my centrist stance.... and upon re-reading, I see why he says that and will work on being less "preachy" in my writing).

They also include many Libertarians who are welcoming to their ranks and people who dream of a third party (which I don't think can happen any time soon).

And then there are those who agree in concept, but see no way that the system can change, so they encourage me to get over it and stop talking about politics.

While I don't want to offend anyone (as I respect both sides for having conviction and passion), I do worry about how we can heal the system .... as too many people are too far apart and compromise does not seem like something either side will line up for if they lose.

I hope which ever side that wins can reach across the isle. Even more I hope those who lose can reach back. A big handshake and hug at the end will go a long way for all.

Anonymous said...

Not sure you are being preachy, and yet all should be sensitive this election year that emotions are running deep. There is a lot at stake. Most Americans are not really that engaged in the process, but for some this election is a war for the future.

This election will get much messier before it gets better. Expect to see a lot of mud flying.

Your "fantasy" about those in the middle doing something to take control is a nice movie script, but you will not see it happen. The middle will just sit back and ignore it all until it is too late. You are right, the middle could own the future, but they gave up years ago. Our future is in the hands of the extremists.


Anonymous said...

Time to organize a centrist 3rd Party

O.k. Election over. Pundits are discussing why the Republicans failed and the Dems won. Meanwhile, I'm worried that the President elect will be held captive by the Pelosi far left of his party. Meanwhile, the Republicans are spinning to the right -- Governor Palin as Pres candidate in '12? Please.. the woman coudln't pass a civics class.

The political middle is becoming ripe for a leader to turn it into a viable Party option. Whether a centrist Party could win in '12 is not the question -- it's more urgent than that. The middle needs to contain the extremes and make them work toward solving the problems you listed.