The Angry Middle

Red_Wonder bread_2012-07-31

2016-02-14 – I’ve seen a lot of electronic ink spilt recently saying that the voters of both parties are going for the extremes. Republicans are supposedly going for the extreme right. Democrats are supposedly going for the extreme left. The intensity of this message went up after the New Hampshire primary when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders won big. The “establishment” is supposedly in a panic and they are characterizing Bernie and The Donald as extremists.

Are they? No doubt they are channeling anger. But does anger = extremism?

A lot of what Bernie Sanders is advocating would have been unexceptional before the Reagan revolution of the 1980s wrenched the “political center” of this country to the right. Would Republican Richard Nixon have voted for what Bernie is proposing? Some yes. Some no. Would Democrat LBJ have voted for what Bernie is proposing? Mostly yes.

And on the Republican side, what is The Donald proposing. Aside from a wall, not much other than deal making. Basically, Donald Trump is proposing that he will do exactly the opposite of Republican dogma. Deal making is the opposite of right-wing intransigence. Is he indulging in scary rhetoric? To me he is. But basically he’s saying that he’s going to “get ‘er done” without being very specific about what he wants done. Deal makers talk like that.

Strip away the hoopla and the so-called “political revolution” of the left and the right is that we have to get back to working with each other to the benefit of we-the-people. It seems pretty middle-of-the-road to me. And I think that’s why the demographics of Sanders and Trump voter are pretty similar. They want to cut the crap and get back to government working for the people. But finding a candidate who will do that out of a field of extremists is pretty hard. The people aren’t the extremists. The politicians are, especially on the Republican side.

But you can’t say stuff like this. These days you have to dress it up in anger and shouting. Everything has to be YUGE.

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