In our mission to "rebuild the middle ground" of United States politics, we are obviously fighting a losing battle. Pew lays out a pretty horrid landscape -- and that was before the election. The left and right hate each other, and they may be caught in a downward spiral of distrust that tears the country apart.
If there's any hope to be had from this particular strategy, the middle ground needs to identify who's in it, and find each other -- and fast.
The whole hypothesis of Wedged is that the cycle of mistrust is built on fairly reasonable people from each side buying into the idea that everyone on the other side of the political spectrum is a "nutjob" -- where the "nutjobs" in fact represent a loud-but-small minority.
Hopefully many of us can imagine a world where those people are largely ignored, rather than running the political show. It seems a very long way off.
I think one of the things that's held some folks back is that they believe this middle ground to be built is a bunch of moderates, at the exclusion of people who take a stand somewhere else on the spectrum. I've heard some people say, "I'm not for you: I'm an X."
What The Middle Ground Means
This is one of those, "if you're listening to this, you are the resistance" kinds of messages. Whether you're part of this intrepid group depends very little on your political ideology (with a few rare exceptions), and more on how you want to play the game of politics.
Here's What the Middle Ground Isn't
- Moderates or centrists, at the exclusion of others (they are of course welcome)
- People who believe that the truth is always "in between" what the Democrats and Republicans think
- Those who think compromise is always the right move
- Being part of the middle ground doesn't mean not taking a stand. It doesn't mean not believing in something, advocating for it, and believing it's the right policy idea.
What the Middle Ground Is
- Those who believe most Americans share a set of core values that is consistent
- Those who believe a middle ground exists (yes, this is a bit recursive)
- Those who recognize that there can be people in the middle ground of different political ideologies: that there are smart, well-informed, well-intentioned people of different political ideologies
- Those who are open to learning from others that have different policy proposals, and have the humility to believe that they probably haven't gotten it all figured out yet
- Those who recognize that they do not need to agree with the entire slate of one party or political group; that they will evaluate different ideas by their merits, regardless of who said them
- Those who recognize that trying to caricaturize and score political points against those that disagree with them isn't going to help the country move forward -- or even accomplish their own political agenda
- Such people can be moderates, conservatives, liberals, progressives, libertarians, greens, etc. No matter what policy pack you think is right for the country, you're the middle ground if you fit into the above.
I haven't figured out how to get all of you together. This is where I could use some help. But, again: "if you're reading this, you are the resistance." You're a special brand that is trying to hold the country together against the many forces that are tearing it apart.
Hope to have your help.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Reconsider Media on February 9, 2017 and was republished with permission from the author.