When I began this blog last November, I had hoped to use it primarily as an outlet to voice my frustrations with partisan politics and, in the belief that the majority of this country held a centrist view of government and would share my despair that fringe elements on both the right and left were driving social agendas that were counter to the preferred policies desired by the majority of Americans. Hold The Center may not have been a catchy name for a blog, but it did capture the idea that I wanted it based on – that being if we don’t stake where the Center exists today, the political debate in Washington would simply continue to drift further to the conservative right – especially since liberals in America are so incredibly quick to compromise on every issue and conservatives hold fast to theirs.
What I’ve discovered in the last six months is that I picked a crappy name for a blog. There is no “Center” to hold on to.
I thought, apparently very wrongly, that most people in America were social liberals (or social libertarians for a better label) while desiring fiscal conservatism. If anything, the ideals of Blue Dog Democrats probably came closest to policies that most Americans supported. Nope – I completely whiffed on that one. Blue Dog Democrats paid the highest price at the polls in the 2010 elections. Many of those on the Sarah Palin Top 20 Target List were Blue Dogs. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell summed it up rather nicely when he rhetorically asked, why vote for Republican lite when you can get the real thing?
Last night we somehow averted a government shutdown. Both sides, Democrats and Republicans, “compromised” to keep the government of the United States operational and funded. But we all know that it wasn’t a real compromise. This was but a single battle in a much larger war of priorities. If this were analogous to what is going on in Libya, where a real war is being fought, the Democrats are holed up in Misrata and the Republicans took a breather from the shelling for a day.
So the Republicans and Tea Partiers “compromised” on Planned Parenthood for a day. The 2012 budget is right around the corner – assuming of course they actually pass a budget on time next time around and don’t operate on continuing resolutions for another half year next year! If anyone thinks the issues that drove the government to the brink of collapse are over, even for a day or two – you are sadly mistaken.
I wrote last that America is in a culture war and in this war you have two sides and a completely disinterested middle. On the right, you have a very well organized campaign to “restore” America to a country that never existed. They are disciplined, well funded, and have the right political representation to push their agendas – lower taxes, cut social services, ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade, put prayer and creationism back in schools, get the 10 Commandments in the courthouses and essentially make this a country that a Christian God can be proud of again. On the left, well, I got nothing. I haven’t a real clue what the left stands for – they are disorganized and bereft of leadership. I know they don’t like what the right is doing, but they haven’t a clue how to counter it. They need a No Fly Zone to help give them space to figure it out and that isn’t coming anytime soon.
So what is in the “Center?” Tens of millions of disinterested citizens that really don’t see how any of these policy issues will impact them. Washington is going to do what Washington is going to do – and we’ll just have to deal with whatever crap they put on us, one way other the other. These people are overwhelmed with trying to live and earn a living. There are way too many issues and nuances in Washington Beltway politics for them to be able to pay attention to. Ultimately, we have a middle that is simply tuning out, avoiding the news, and doing what they can to get on with their lives. They may hold on to some core beliefs and ideals in which they’d like for their government to do, but neither the time, the money, nor the energy to devote to changing circumstances that, ultimately, never change.
My ideal of the political center has also been shattered through the comments I’ve received on this blog and on Facebook. I’ve come to realize that those that care enough about the issues of governance and where this country is heading really exist in two camps and the camp on the right is louder and more vocal.
Again, I honestly thought that opening a debate on ideas would spur discussion and be able to generate a middle ground where most of us could agree upon, but that middle ground does not exist.
As a social libertarian and a fiscal conservative, I would prefer government out of our private lives. Public funding should not push religious agendas in my life or in the lives of my children. Fiscally, I prefer a balanced budget that works in accordance with spending equaling revenues taken but also is grounded in social justice that ensures Americans don’t suffer based on political policies. When I was growing up I used to hear that it might be bad in this country – but go to another country and you’ll find it far worse. Well, I’ve had the opportunity to go to many countries in this world and with the exceptions of the Dominican Republic, Bulgaria, and Thailand, I don’t think we have much room for bragging on this any longer. Our wealth disparity in this country is beyond the pale and we simply don’t care – that really is the bottom line isn’t it? Get a job and do something with your life if you don’t like it – don’t complain to us if you can’t do it and if you don’t like it, leave. Oh, and leave the rich alone! If we piss them off, we’ll simply lose more jobs – so let’s just give them more money so they can “create” more lower to lower-middle class jobs that we can tax and keep government running on a skinny budget.
This is the message I’m hearing loud and clear, with very little opposition out there to counter it. There’s your America. You get what you ask for…Who am I to disagree?
In the coming weeks I’ll try to re-brand this blog – maybe “Missing the Center?” [joking!]. Whatever it ends up being, I’m sure I will continue to piss people off and continue to lose more “friends” on Facebook…