It’s a fair question. So far, this election cycle is a gravitational pull toward the extremes. Disillusioned citizens across America are flocking to the candidate that best represents their anger at the establishment. For many, it’s not merely enough to change the system. They want to see the status quo upended and tossed away.
I guess it’s not all that surprising. The commercial media, in its quest to brand the political process and increase ad revenue, wrote the narrative that led us here. Politicians exploited that narrative by turning our differences into campaign platforms to predict our voting habits. As citizens, we were not merely victims, but willing participants in the one-dimensional perspective of partisan politics.
Left vs. Right
Conservative vs. Liberal
Democrat vs. Republican
Pro-This vs. Anti-That
Is it any wonder then that our great divide has pushed us so far to the outside that we reject anything close to the middle? That the political spectrum has become an exaggerated representation of our principles, leaving little room for compromise and common ground?
For those of us caught in the middle, our choices are limited. We either fall in line with the fanatics or check out entirely. Most moderates end up choosing the latter. Our frustration with popularity politics leaves us indifferent. We know from experience that the radicals are resistant to rational thought, so we rely on our ability to tune them out. But this can be dangerous.
When the moderates in any society become apathetic, a door opens for the demagogues. They take advantage of our silence by using a megaphone to incite angry mobs. Campaign signs adorned with slick slogans take the place of torches and pitchforks. The working classes are lured in with false rhetoric and lofty promises.
Shouting from the podium, outsider politicians invent enemies by manipulating our anxieties. They create victims by consolidating every argument into a hatred for the government. Then, they offer comfort in the form of revenge and retribution.
Of course, some of us know better. Moderates are the mediators of democracy, always admiring its strengths while ever fearful of its weaknesses. Seasoned centrists know when they’re being sold snake oil. Our best weapon against these extremists is our ability to take in information, digest it, and form an objective opinion. We pride ourselves on being immune to the politics of the moment.
Unfortunately, our current political environment is hostile to anyone offering a path through the middle. For proof we need to look no further than the two candidates currently attracting the most attention. One is promising a reversion to our past, the other, a blind leap forward into unknown territory.
So, we have to ask the question: Can you still be a moderate in America? Despite everything happening this election season, I think you can. In fact, I believe there are more moderates in America than the polls suggest. Now more than ever the centrists in our society need to engage in the political process. Speak up and let your voices be heard. Vote, and encourage other likeminded individuals to follow you to the polls.
Just because you’re not shouting doesn’t mean your words are absent of value. Just because you’re not shaking your fists, doesn’t mean you’re devoid of passion. That’s the narrative that’s being written this year, but let’s not surrender to the narrative. Instead, let’s write our own.