Don’t Complain When They Burn It Down.
UPDATE -- JUNE, 2014 -- THE PEW CENTER FOR RESEARCH FOR THE PEOPLE AND THE PRESS has issued a REPORT entitled:
"Political Polarization in the American Public
How Increasing Ideological Uniformity and Partisan Antipathy Affect Politics, Compromise and Everyday Life"
After intensive study, they arrive at the same conclusions expressed in this 2011 Blog. To Read, Visit -- http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/
In recent weeks a lot of people are acknowledging that the American political system is failing – our government is broken and nonfunctional. The explanation is relatively simple, and can best be understood by the reference to a simple bell curve.
Essentially, the bell curve illustrates the Left, the Right, and the moderate political orientation of Americans.
On the far Left, and on the far Right are the Conservatives and the Liberals. Combined, these groups constitute approximately 30% (Red) of the electorate, with approximately 5% (Orange) split between extreme conservative and extreme liberal. The rest of the electorate, approximately 70% (Blue) fall between the extremes.
For decades, both political parties (Republican and Democratic) consisted of members spread across this political spectrum. However, progressively, Conservatives have gained control of the Republican Party while Liberals now control the Democratic Party. The minority 30% of the electorate have become the “BASE” for both parties. In both major political parties, nominations are controlled by the BASE. In order to be a nominee of either party, a politician must gain the support of their BASE. This has created cadres of radical politicians with few moderates.
Why have such a limited number of voters gained such power? Very simply, because the majority (that 70% of us in the middle) have given it to them by our lack of political activism. Whether you consider the fringe 15% in each party “true believers” or “radical extremists,” they are passionate about their cause. Because of their passion, they constitute the party workers, who make the phone calls, raise the money, lick the stamps, carry the placards, distribute the literature, go house-to-house, attend the rallies and the meetings, and turn out the vote. They know what they believe, and they are willing to work to achieve their goals.
The 70% in the middle are ambivalent and inactive. Their see complex problems, without simple solutions. They can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. They don’t trust “big government,” but they trust big business, big banks, and multinational conglomerates even less. They don’t want “socialized medicine,” but they don’t believe Big Pharmacy, Big Insurance, and For-profit Hospitals should control health policy. They can be both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice. They don’t want their taxes raised, but they realize that the essential services provided by our government must be financed. They are Pro-family, but not Anti-Gay. They can be Pro-military, and Anti-war. They support our military, but don’t believe the military-industrial complex should dictate foreign policy. They view complex issues in shades of gray, while the extremes of both parties see only black and white. They vacillate while the extremists act.
The far Left and far Right minorities are permitted (by the inaction of the majority) to select the candidates of each Party. The majority is allowed to vote on the candidates selected for them. The only power the majority has is BALANCE. When the majority feels the government is tipping too far to the extreme Left, they pull to the Right; and when things are slipping too far to the Right, they pull Left. Our government rocks and tips back and forth in a strange balancing act that puzzles the rest of the world. The Majority are like the navigator on a sailboat trying to sail into the wind. They set the sails to zag to the Left, and then they reset the sails and tack to zig to the Right. They Zig and Zag, trying to chart a straight course in a time-wasting, inefficient effort.
This rocking back and forth; this ziging and zaging is destroying America’s economy and our political institutions. With escalating needs for flexibility and rapid response to emerging conditions, this has moved beyond inefficiency, and we find ourselves stalled, unable to move. We are rapidly losing the position of world leadership which we have maintained since WWWII.
The minorities on the far Right and far Left are not concerned. Their entrenched, warfare mentalities see only black and white, win or lose; compromise is not in their vocabularies. The harm done to the country does not cause them anxiety or distress. As in Solomon’s parable, they are willing to see the baby die rather than budge one inch from their philosophical positions.
And the majority – we just stand by, turning our country over to these fringe groups. Quite literally, we have turned the asylum over the inmates and they are proceeding to burn it down, while we watch and wring our hands.