This is a critical juncture for Republicans. But, it’s also a key turning point for Moderates, Independents or just everyday reasonable people. They’re watching the continued dysfunction in Washington and wondering where the solutions lie? Cooler heads are calling for compromise. But, many Americans are wondering if compromise is possible given the current political climate. There have been calls for a third party. That has been tried before and if it does happen, it will be years before the idea or movement gains real traction. And it doesn’t resolve the fact that the patient is in need of triage right now.
I wonder if it is time for the Republicans to trot out a series of television commercials that show real people who are reasonable Republicans? Everyday Americans who love this country and are sickened by the divisiveness. Not the actual candidates who are sadly so vulnerable to being defined by forces beyond their control. Or who will likely drown in that giant whirlpool that reasonable candidates are drowning in – the primary system. Maybe it’s time to turn to the every day people who vote for Republicans and aren’t afraid to stand up and say it? Even when it might surprise you because it seems inconsistent based on your assumptions. This isn’t a crass political strategy. It’s letting the truth out.
The reason business has become the bogeyman in American politics is because most Americans don’t see these people up close. I guess I did because I worked in news, an occupation that put me in touch with people from all walks of life, and forced me to confront stereotypes. What I discovered is that most people are good and reasonable when they don’t feel cornered, afraid or manipulated. Whether that is in the inner city, affluent communities, government offices or boardrooms.
I say, it’s time for these real people who aren’t running for office to introduce themselves to the American public. Why are these people hiding? “I’m a Republican who loves to talk with my friends on the other side who say the environment is their biggest concern. I fish, I hike and I care about preserving our country’s natural resources. Here is what I’m doing…”
On the flip side, why not have an artist, a writer or a designer come on and say, “I create. That is my gift. But, I trust these guys to manage our fiscal health long term.”
A wise and experienced leader referred to the days when a two party system was a healthy thing that allowed each side to battle for the middle ground. As I’ve said on this blog many times, I believe most Americans are more moderate than the partisan media or our representatives in Congress would have you believe. It wasn’t that long ago that President Barack Obama and Candidate John McCain represented that duel. Then McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate and inadvertently hit a tipping point that drove a lot of reasonable Republican women out of the tent. It allowed the Democrats to portray themselves as the party that stood for women. As for the other team, President Barack Obama left many conservative Democrats in his own party wondering whether the candidate they voted for had been hijacked once he got to Washington.
The reason Americans aren’t celebrating the Democrats’ apparent victory on Obamcare is that they’re tired of the one upmanship. And what it will cost is sinking in. But the Republicans need to recognize that, according to polls, 33% of Americans are against an outright repeal. There is something there that they like and need. It’s access and compassion when it comes to insuring the uninsured.
Obama got elected because people believed he was the better person. He got re-elected for the same reason. But, the question is whether it was the Republican messaging that got hijacked. By the Tea Party? By partisan media? By insiders who benefit financially from the fight?
My guess is that going forward, a growing number of Americans will decide whether they vote for candidates based on 1) the person 2) the party or 3) the policies. I have voted for both parties, have put differences in policy over stem cell research, reproductive rights and who can marry who aside because I knew the people personally and knew them to be principled and reasonable. And because I believed our collective interests over the economy were paramount but, mostly because I believed the wheel was turning on social issues. And it is. Just look at New Jersey where Gov. Chris Christie just backed off of the fight over gay marriage.
So, where do we go from here?
1) I wonder if there is a reasonable Democrat in the land who will stand up and say thank you to the Tea Party for the things they did right? “I disagree with your tactics, particularly around this latest battle attaching Obamacare to funding the budget. I feel you have gone too far. But a very sincere thank you for rightly pointing out that fiscal reform is needed. You led that charge and on that point, “good job.” Now, for the good of this country, can we talk?
2) Are there reasonable Republicans who will address the fact that Obamacare is now the law because Americans believe in access to affordable healthcare and insuring the uninsured or those with pre-existing conditions. If Americans weren’t practicing wellness before, there is now a fiscal imperative to do so. How do Republicans get comfortable with saying the key is to lower costs so that we can broaden the pool and take care of our neediest and sickest citizens?
3) Who is brave enough to say this really isn’t about me? It’s about our collective interests. It isn’t a sign of weakness to compromise; it is a sign of strength.