The American Political Playground (or, Overcoming the Abyss)

“Political Center [:] A demographic segment defined by a population of exactly zero.”

– “B.C.” (by John Hart, 7.18.2017)

When speaking about politics, one hears descriptions of “left”, “right” or “center” (liberal, conservative or neither). I’m not sure what the middle (center, neither) really means – does it mean those described as such are completely and utterly devoid of any political leanings whatsoever, right or left, or does it mean they do have beliefs, some liberal and some conservative, but that, on the whole, when adding them together and dividing them by the number, are canceling  each other out for a zero sum and, thus, they have no meaning or impact politically?

I think many of middles can see value in both liberal and conservative positions, just not to any extreme, which – extremism, that is – seems to be the soup du jour these days.

If one were to liken politics to the Grand Canyon, liberals on one rim and conservatives on the opposite rim, then the “middles” would be somewhere in the center of the canyon attempting to stand in mid-air with nothing – no terra firma beneath their feet, just a gaping abyss – to give them any support, to keep them from falling to their deaths, resulting in “a population of exactly zero.” Were it not a canyon but just a large crack in the ground, it would enable those so inclined to jump back and forth from side to side as the urge dictated. But then they’d never really be in the middle, just flip-flopping.

And flip-flopping leads to another anology, a see-saw, when assessing politics, with liberals on one end and conservatives on the other. When there is excessive weight to one side or the other, it always wins and throws the other end into the air, where all they can do is hold on for dear life. And I suppose that’s were the middles in the center finally have value, by leaning just a tad one way or the other they can even out the balance in such a way that neither one end nor the other dominates, they both are suspended equally off the ground, and need to negotiate with each other and those in the middle if anything is going to happen.

And that’s the ideal situation, finding balance and negotiating a resolution to the problem. Unfortunately, in America, politically, we’re less see-saw -like and more canyon-like. Today the true middles – those who believe in balance – have zero influence, because the vast majority of those who call themselves “milddles” either really aren’t (they really do prefer one side over the other) or are really apolitical people who get their jollies by voting with no purpose other than to throw a monkey-wrench into the political process just to upset the apple cart and to keep everybody off balance.

I’d rather that we get off of the canyon divide we’re currently in, where all that is accomplished is where the liberals on one side and the conservatives on the other do nothing more than yell back and forth at each other, and there’s nowhere for the true middles to be, and back to the see-saw where the true middles have some influence over the two extremes and the extremes have to negotiate with the middles and each other to get movement one way or the other.

Unfortunately, see-saws are found on playgrounds (to continue the analogy) frequented by children. And in the playground of American politics, the children today don’t play well with each other. The little children don’t or can’t, or don’t know how, to play fairly, understand the concept of compromise to find a win-win solution where all involved can share equally. Instead, they yell at each other, arguing over who’s game is going to be played.

It’s time for the adult middles to step in and take charge, give direction and remove the playground bullies who insist on playing only by their rules.

Which begs the question, “Are there any adults left in America?”

– Bill


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