Capturing our attention while finding a political center
The center of our political attention this past week was on the Democratic debates. If you’re a registered Republican – and paid attention – you may have focused on how these 20 candidates attacked each other, Trump, and even Obama. If you’re a registered Democrat, you may have strained to identify which one emerged above the rest: by policy and character and presentation style. If you’re neither of these, you may have either turned the television (or social media) off or enjoyed the show as a bit of “reality TV” for entertainment’s sake.
The Democratic perspective is worth considering. There was a crossfire of ideas vying for and pushing on our nation’s political center. Personalities aside, the contenders took on such topics as: economic disparity, education costs, health care, immigration reform, climate change, and justice reform. While voices were raised it was stunning how much the candidates agreed.
Meanwhile, Republicans are retiring early, dividing the nation, and enabling systemic racism. Senate Majority Leader McConnell (Moscow Mitch) stonewalls to further allow any foreign agency to meddle in our democracy. Republican’s grip on this nation’s center is beginning to slip away.
Democrats share their ideas
Back to the Democratic debates.
Economic disparity took center stage from the beginning of the first debate night until the end of both events. It was pointed out how the one percent captures and controls the nation’s wealth while the nation’s vast majority suffers paycheck-to-paycheck. Wrapped into this discussion was how college tuition has become a burden that further disadvantages any who aspire for a degree.
Health care was recognized by several as being a right rather than a privilege. The contentions centered around nuances of how to provide affordable health care for everyone without breaking the proverbial public bank.
Immigration reform was in high demand as several voiced their distress over the humanitarian crises at our southern border. Is crossing illegal? Can we speed up the path to citizenship? Again, there was more nuance than disagreement.
Everyone chorused together how climate change (crises, if you prefer) is our number one existential threat. They acknowledged that the fix demands a multi-pronged approach and that time is running out. The nuances centered around job growth opportunity, profits, and cost containment.
Justice reform was stunning on the second evening as former Vice President Biden became a bit of a piñata while others attacked his record. The suggested reforms promised lowered costs while addressing humanitarian concerns.
Democrats consider money and aspiration
More topics were sprinkled in to challenge voters as they consider the emerging Democratic center:
- Money (or the lack thereof) stultifies our democracy
- Political aspiration ushers in new ideas for a better national future.
Democrats still cling to the notion of hope.
Candidates, such as Senators Warren and Sanders, warned and educated the audience about economic disparity causes and consequences. They focused on the aspiration and innovative ideas needed to reduce, if not eliminate, the economic barriers we presently confront.
The debate topics were tethered to the center pole of money to justify a stance, a solution, a fresh perspective. And, each candidate, in their own respective manner, claimed we can do better if we try! Aspiration emerged as the prevailing sentiment. There was no patience with any shirking of responsibility or shrinking from a challenge. There was no lack of new ideas. They spoke of courage.
Andrew Yang proposes an aspirational money idea
As an example of combining economic disparity issues with aspiration, Andrew Yang, relying on math (facts!), advises us to turn our economics around. Instead of relying on a trickle-down approach, he suggests we get smart and try trickle-up economics instead. On first blush, Yang’s Freedom Dividend sounds bizarre, but it’s not presented from a pie-in-the-sky perspective. It could work, he claims, if it’s tried. Upon consideration, the idea may grow on you.
For me, it’s this if we try perspective that catches this optimist’s attention. The center of my worldview usually revolves around a future forged from a willingness to improve. It begins from criticism, certainly, but quickly and hopefully reaches to a shared solution. It’s a central component of what it means to be American.
Improvement is central to a successful future
Whether you’re a registered Democrat, Republican, or an avowed “other,” it’s vital for these United States to continue to try to improve. We’ll not often agree with each other. Such conflict, too, is what makes us more adapting, more innovative, and continually better.
Absorbing what was at the center of the debates – this willingness to try to improve – encourages me, once again, to point to Equal Voice Voting (EVV). We can turn our presidential election mechanism around with the intent of making it work better for every voter. We can make every voter matter, every state be heard, and every viable vote be represented in the Electoral College. We can do this if we simply remove the winner-takes-all burden from the process and replace it with a proportional accounting of the votes.
Winning candidates must be innovative and aspirational
The campaigns yet to unfold should reveal a plethora of new ideas and a willingness – an urging – to try to reach for an improved collective future. These are times to collaborate and to plan and to build. Each political party is reaching for its respective soul. It must be centered on inclusiveness (not division) and an aspiration for a hopeful and brighter future.
Two questions remain: Which candidate will reach this central truth first? And, will voters recognize the nation’s political center when it emerges?