Fanatical Moderates

by Brie Stimson November 27, 2018
 

 

The inauguration of President Barack Obama, January 20th 2009.  Unrecognizable crowds in the Washington DC Mall.

As I am writing this, Democrats have gained 30 plus seats and have taken back the House of Representatives – and power will be shared once again. Two years ago, the Republicans took the presidency and kept their majorities in Congress. A few years before that, Democrats held the presidency and ran Congress. Each time there’s been an election (at least in my recent memory) it seems both parties act like the results are set in stone. The party in power clings to it and refuses to share it and the party out of power does what they can to gridlock any progress from the other side. At the risk of repeating what’s been said a lot recently, what happened to reaching across the aisle? What happened to compromise? To hoard your power (and potentially abuse it) as if the other party cannot come back into power and do the same thing seems absurd and very short-sighted.

Now that Republicans and Democrats have to share the power of the government, they will have to compromise if they want to get anything done. But if the 2013 shutdown proved anything it’s that that may not be likely.

Maybe this polarization isn’t so new. Maybe we look at the past with rose-tinted glasses and tend to embellish the rare times we were able to agree. Maybe ceding power and giving of ourselves isn’t in our nature.

But that’s not true. Maybe politics is doomed to selfishness, but when you look at situations like the Pittsburgh shooting, the California wildfires, every day stories of our men and women in uniform or even our fellow citizens in times of crisis, there is one story of selflessness after another. How many times have we heard that the fallen ran toward the danger instead of away so that others could live? If they can make the ultimate sacrifice, perhaps our politicians could find it within themselves this upcoming January to look across the aisle and see where they could agree.

After all, the holidays are “the season of perpetual hope!” as Catherine O’Hara yells at a befuddled airport clerk in one of my favorite holiday movies “Home Alone.” (She goes on to say she will sell her soul to the “Devil himself” to get home to see her son for Christmas, but that’s beside the point.)

At this wintery season of the year when we are reflecting back and looking ahead, when we may tend to feel the urge to be a little kinder, to smile a little more, to see something from someone else’s perspective – we should expect just as much from our politicians. And whether they like it or not, if they want to keep the lights on for the next two years – let alone have a functioning country – they’re going to have to learn to give a little and (as all kindergarteners are taught) to share.

I may not agree with all politicians at all times, and I certainly have my own strong opinions about different issues. But I feel sentimental seeing Democrats and Republicans standing up for each other, speaking civilly and occasionally putting their own egos and agendas aside to craft legislation to actually help the American people who are the only reason they have the privilege they have.

There is much talk about fanatics on the left and right, but this new year let’s hope for some fanatical moderates.

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