Differences are much more eye-catching and dramatic than commonalities. If there is a sliver of overlap or common ground, it's usually unwanted and ignored. The clash, the smashing together of opposites is much more entertaining, and I should know, as a sometime playwright. Ted Turner, for good or bad, discovered with CNN that dramatic news could make money. And then the world became VERY polarized, and the sliver was eclipsed.
I joined the board of directors of Americans to Rebuild Democracy, because in the sliver resides true leadership. There are a number of us coming to this meme. Others call it the convergence, or transformation: even the “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” moment. I seek out and try to connect folk with similar proclivities.
I am the editor of aGREATER.US, an internet platform to uncover a new political platform for a greater U.S. Not left, right, or moderatebut the sliver. Surprisingly enough there are lots of great ideas out there. If you get a chance read a few, submit one, write an op-ed, maybe tell a friend.
Some of the ideas are nonpartisan, which I like to refer to as “everyone loves it.” Then there are bipartisan ideas which “no one hates.” The general structure put forth by AURD is a threefold package; ending gerrymandering (nonpartisan), campaign finance reform (somewhere between nonpartisan and bipartisan), and Term Limits (ditto). The brilliance of the package is that generally speaking ”individualists” would compromise on CFR to get TL, and “communitarians” vice-versa.
Take Campaign Finance Reform, the left’s drama has been made to be ALL money in politics is bad. Well, without sufficient money the public cannot vet the candidates. The right’s drama is corporations have to have enough free speech to protect themselves from an overreaching government interfering in capital markets. The obvious, well at least to me, solution is to “Ban corporate political contributions to or for, or against, candidates, elected officials, and political parties, but in no way infringe upon free speech rights of corporation (people gathered together for a common interest) when it comes to issues.
If the Koch Brothers and Soros want to frack the frack out of whether there should be fracking or not in America, in the media, I for one am going to grab some popcorn and pull up a chair. It creates jobs, and informs the public the same way a prosecutor and a defender do in a trial. And I’m on the jury by nature that—I vote.
Gerrymandering is a marvelous grievance. On aGREATER.US it is the #1 rated idea, with (at the time of this writing) 98% tripartisan support. The problem here is what the solution is. Should districts be decided by an “independent” (if there is such a thing) judiciary or by algorithm, or a hybrid of the two? State by state, or federally mandated? I lean towards competing algorithmic proposals presented to a citizens jury chosen at random, or for its maximum diversity—but that’s just me.
And finally, Term Limits: this polls the lowest of the three on my website, dancing just above or below the magical 75% approval rating. The reasoned argument against Term Limits goes like this: if you have a great employee why would you fire her or him? The flip side of that argument is intractable problems are only reinforced by the same polarized opinions year after year, Congress after Congress. Here I tend to favor a barbell approach (or dumbbell if you’re a cynic), the elected official can come back after a meaningful hiatus, my reasoning is —where would the world be if Churchill had been term limited? Sometimes you really do need an elder statesman to do the heavy lifting. But that’s just me.
I hope you will seek out a consensus idea or group of your own to support. I frequently say, “policy work is really hard.” Because of that a lot of folks don’t want to do it, give up too soon, get frustrated, or wonder “why bother anyway, it not going to change anything.”
But we’re going to, it’s called manifest destiny, and it just takes a lot of reading, listening, trial balloons, wordsmithing, and passion. Sounds like great fun to me.
These AURD reforms individually and collectively poll nationally, and on my site with tripartisan ratings (fiscal conservatives, social liberals, and independents given equal say), at or above the 75% threshold needed to pass a constitutional amendment. Yet, our elected officials can’t seem to exhibit the #1 rule of leadership which is to see which way the crowd is going, dash ahead, and yell “FOLLOW ME!”
Why don't they do this? It should be obvious. It's not in their interests. But reform is crucially in the public 's interest. We are going to have to lead this one ourselves.