Monday, April 16, 2012

Why are we so polarized?

Two items.

A TV ad for a Republican candidate, for Senate, I believe.  He claims to be pro-family and pro-life.  No comment on these as they say nothing.  Who is anti-family and anti-life?  His last comment was that if elected he would never vote to raise the debt limit.  Really?  So this gentleman, if elected, will vote for no budget regardless of who submits it as there is NO WAY we can have a balanced budget in the near future.  Even Rep Ryan's recent budget proposal has a projected deficit of $800 billion dollars for fiscal 2013.   The problem is that some voters will see this ad and say YEAH, I am voting for this guy.  Doesn't matter that his statement has no basis in reality.  We get the government we deserve??  Should we not demand political campaigns that actually discuss the issues.  In this case, what exactly will this Senator vote to cut?  Social security benefits?  Defense spending?   A quick glance at the details of our federal spending shows that we could cut ALL discretionary spending, and still not have a balanced budget.  Or we could spend ZERO money on defense, and still not have a balanced budget.

The reality is, we will continue to have deficit spending in this country until we face the hard truth that we need to devise a plan that cuts spending, increases revenue, and confronts the very real issues which are the result of an aging population.  We need cooperation, not confrontation. Less meaningless pledges and rhetoric, and more adult discussion and problem solving.  

Second item was a story about recent polls of New Jersey voters which reveal a small majority of support for Gov Christie so far.  They also support President Obama by a similar, small majority.  A GOP Governor and a Democratic president, both with positive reactions.  It suggests that fiscal conservatism resonates in even "blue" states, but that, perhaps, social conservatism, does not play as well.  So, if this is a reflection of more than just New Jersey, then why are there no candidates running with just such a platform?  (See my answer below)

A companion piece on Gov Christie suggested that he would be the Republican nominee for president in 2016.  (I assume that statement assumes an Obama victory in November).  Does that mean that an Obama victory will be the reality check that the Republican party needs to escape from its domination by its far right wing?  One could say that the nomination of Mitt Romney is the first step in that direction.  If Rick Santorum can't even win his own party's nomination, then clearly he could not have won in November.  So, the extreme "right" members of the party, the minority, have not "won".

And, despite what some Republican pundits might tell you, President Obama has governed much closer to the middle than his far left supporters were expecting.  So again, the extreme members of his party, the minority, did not get the administration they wanted, did not "win".

Many of my discussions about politics include the sentiment that while we are free to vote, we have limited choices of whom to vote for.  Choices driven by the two political parties, both of which are driven by a desire to win elections, not necessarily govern for the betterment of America.  Yet, my above observation suggests that neither party's "base" has the upper hand, and that a more moderate version of the man who won the 2008 election and a moderate republican nominee will be competing for the presidency in November.  Are they then, the candidates we deserve because they reflect the precise dichotomy of perspective that exists in America today? 

Will the winner in November then, be the candidate who strikes the best balance between the competing extremes of the electorate.  The candidate who is able to win the votes of the middle 20% of voters who reflect the attitude that neither party has all the answers, that neither party is 100% wrong or 100% right.  The candidate who might actually be the best choice, at this time, for the United States?  The candidate that neither the extreme left or right, which is afterall, the source of all the polarization, supports whole heartedly.  Perhaps then we do have two candidates whose core beliefs reflect a "consrvative" approach to our fiscal problems mixed with a "liberal" perspective on our social issues.  Middle left and middle right, the exact place where the battle of paradigms and philosophies should take place.

Always the optimist!

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