Whatever your views on the tax bill, Roy Moore vs. Doug Jones or the Trump presidency, the last few weeks should trouble you if you love our country.
Partisan pundits from each of the two warring factions have declared victory or stunning, breathless defeat, depending on the outcome for their team. These three recent flash points demonstrate for me yet again the dangerous and unhealthy times we are in.
Each of these represents clearly the deep divides that drive our politics right now. It worries me. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Take the tax bill. It passed Congress on a strict party-line vote. Just slightly over half our nation’s senators support it, which doesn’t seem very united to me. Democrats will spend the day in gloom and doom while the Republicans take a gaudy victory lap.
Or the Alabama Senate race. While I’m personally quite thankful Roy Moore will not be a US senator, that was hardly a sweeping victory for goodness and decency. Doug Jones barely beat Moore while the partisan and racial divides in that contest were deeply troubling to me.
And every day, President Trump continues to serve as a divisive lightning rod if for no other reason than his personal rhetoric and attacks.
Yet study after study is telling us that the vast majority of Americans hold nuanced, mostly moderate views about life. Then why does it feel so divided? Partly because extremists, alarmists and unwavering partisan politicians are sucking up all the airtime and working hard to convince voters to despise and disagree with one another.
The enormous number of us who reject this view of the world and this style of politics must stand up and say so. The time is right. The country has never been more ready for a completely new way in politics. This isn’t some pollyanna, idealistic unity. That will never happen.
What I’m talking about is a revolution of unity that rejects artificial divisions and embraces our common, shared values that make our nation great. How?
I am more and more convinced every day that the most important next step in healing our politics is to elect independents up and down the ballot who will bring a common-sense, uniting approach to not only their governance but their politics as well.
You can take steps today as a citizen to encourage this. What better time than right now, in this season of giving and kindness and hope? Here’s five ways:
- Find an independent who is advancing the cause of unity in your area and support them by volunteering for their campaign, donating and spreading the word.
- Write a letter to the editor calling on more of the hopeful, unifying discourse we need right now and rejecting both party’s divisive rhetoric.
- Support independent candidates across the country by joining the Centrist Project — a group I serve that is dedicated to electing more independents up and down the ballot.
- Consider running for office as an independent yourself. You can sign up to learn more here.
- Talk to your friends and family about why you support independents. You’d be surprised at how open folks can be when you don’t lead a political conversation with “I’m a (Republican or Democrat.)”
We need not sit on the sidelines wringing our frustrated hands over the growing divide that seems to exist. It is, in fact, not nearly as large as the partisan politicians would have you believe. They seek to divide for their own gain. We must seek to unite, for our common good.
Our nation’s first and only independent president, George Washington, warned us of loyalty to a party over our country. He championed moderation. He said these words to his friend Thomas Jefferson:
“I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.”
He also said this about parties:
“The common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”
Amen, George. Amen.
May Washington’s timeless principles spark a second revolution — one that restores some of the most important values he held, uniting our nation. It’s time.