The professional baseball season is 162 games long, and the players have a saying: "Every team's going to win 54 games, every team's going to lose 54, it's what you do with the other 54 games that counts."
This is also true in politics. The fervent Right (1/3 of voters) will always vote Republican, and are lost to Democrats, who have the Lefty third in their camp. The theoretically “balanced” media is just as polarized, and only attracts audiences who are in violent agreement with them; few if any “minds” are changed.
Both sides realize they need the Center to win the Presidency, and despite redistricting efforts, many Congressional districts and states are also decided by Centrists.
Normally, politicians lean toward the Center once elected, but the 2010 elections have resulted in a level of dogmatic obstinacy that has rendered the White House impotent, Congress a disgrace, and America a laughingstock.
Was this a one-time occurrence? Will the political landscape come back to its senses with a natural regression to the mean? Or has the American voter become so polarized that the middle 1/3 is no longer meaningful?
As a Centrist, I hope not - I don’t want to see a cluster f&*k like the one that we’ve experienced so far in 2010/11.
I don’t speak fo all Centrists, but I believe most would agree that ensuring the sustained wellbeing of every citizen is the #1 priority of Government.
Today is Labor Day, but more than 25 million Americans are un- or underemployed (i.e. not earning enough to survive); the two greatest sources (public sector and small business) of jobs are retrenching; and larger corporations are doing pretty well.
The White House and Congress are oblivious; they think making government smaller, eliminating jobs, and pandering to the Tea Party (lower taxes, less debt) are the path to prosperity.
This at a time when more families are unable to feed themselves every day, individual debt is untenable (student loans are at an all time high), and those who might have a dollar or two of disposable income are saving it, preventing the very commerce needed to put people back to work.
To earn my vote, I’d like to see candidates focused on:
- Investing to create jobs.Individuals and small businesses need improved access to debt, and assurance that their jobs are not about to go away. People create the demand that will drive the need for supply, production, and jobs. The obsession with shrinking government (the country’s largest employer), reducing debt, and cutting and cutting, has created a ripple effect in the commercial sector (shrinkage), and with individuals who are increasingly scared to spend.
Government prioritized supporting corporations over the last couple of decades and it worked. Large businesses are more profitable than ever, and they are more cash-rich than ever. But they are not investing because they see no need to. There is no pressure on corporations to expand capacity because consumer demand is weak.
Government must now prioritize the individual, to help them become consumers once again, and give corporations a reason to invest their savings back into the economy.
Lowering individual taxes are not the answer - this has never worked. We must improve cash flow by refinancing existing consumer debt, changing the way student loans are awarded and priced (if we can deduct mortgage interest, why not student debt?), and providing individuals with some assurance that at least their children’s education and health will be taken care of (see below).
These acts will immediately put money in consumers’ hands, and give them the motivation to buy stuff.
- Creating a safety net that includes universal education and healthcare. Public education was a response to the demand for Industrial Revolution workers, and to protect young children from slave-like labor. It was decried at the time as a socialist act, but justified because an educated and employed workforce would accelerate Capitalistic economic growth, and prevent child abuse, which was thankfully agreed to be a good thing. Today we accept public education.
Universal healthcare is no different. The ONLY constituent that suffers is the health insurer (and the politicians funded by them). By ensuring that everyone is covered, we grow the healthcare industry even more rapidly (it is one of the few that even today is adding jobs), and we recognize (as we did with child labor) that this is part of society’s obligation to help ensure the sustained well-being of every citizen.
But we accomplish one more thing - we enable the bold, daring, capitalistic mindset of the “exceptional American” (sorry) by freeing them to invest and spend and grow the economy, safe from the worry that their families won’t be able to go to the doctor when needed.
The value of this peace of mind can not be underestimated when it comes to a national, positive, growth-oriented outlook.
- Banning government intervention in individuals’ lives (provided they aren’t harming others).
I want my government to stop wasting time worrying about abortion (it is the law of the land), gay marriage, teaching creationism, and the myriad other “social” issues that are important to individuals, but which as a Centrist, I don’t want to make political.
It is bizarre to me that Congress (a bastion of piety, morality and right-mindedness) should even be allowed to opine on these issues, must less legislate them. They simply have no standing.
I think we can trust the American people to live within their moral fabric and rely on domestic law enforcement to protect them from those who would do them harm.
Once the economy stabilizes, we must absolutely focus on cleaning up Government - this will require a clarity of vision and cojones. Attributes both President Obama and the Republican candidates are sorely lacking.
It is ironic that the non-extremist nature of Centrism precludes the impetus to advocate for rational government.