You’re Not Alone: Links for Moderates

Do you believe that both political parties are spending more time vying for power than working to improve our country? Are you bothered by heightened rhetoric where opposing viewpoints and candidates are “evil” or “anti-American”? Do you share views held by both parties? If so, you’re not alone. Below are some blog posts and news stories that might appeal to you.

Here’s a Washington Post article explaining how both parties use the debt ceiling issue for political gain:

Five Myths About the Debt Ceiling

Thomas Friedman looks at the latest — and possibly strongest — attempt at establishing a competitive third party:

Make Way for the Radical Center

Well-known linguist Deborah Tannen takes on the semantics of partisanship and discovers that seeing political opponents as enemies is “dangerous to our democracy”:

Why is ‘compromise’ now a dirty word?

Advice to parents about indoctrinating kids by an author who inadvertently started to do so:

Conservatives vs. liberals: Before you indoctrinate your kids, read this

A new group called “No Labels” calls for people to shun political labels and deal with issues in a civil manner. Its slogan? “Not left. Not right. Forward.”

No Labels website

A CNN essay about how both parties lack courage:

Bygone patriots and the end of political courage

Fareed Zakaria explores how the political rift is caused in part by a new brand of conservatism:

How Today’s Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality

Forbes magazine sounds a death knell for the entitlement-based Democratic party:

Why The Democratic Party Is Doomed

This blogger explains why Democrats are failing to compete with the Republicans’ succinct talking points:

Democrats and the Social Security Messaging Fail

Sen. John McCain demonstrates a higher level of discourse in this Washington Post article praising his political rival, President Obama, for a speech related to the Arizona shootings in January 2011:

After the shootings, Obama reminds the nation of the Golden Rule

A good quote from a press release that shows some politicians have views that cross party lines with regard to issues like gay marriage:

NY State GOP Senator Roy McDonald Is In Favor Of Gay Marriage

In this video clip, Juan Williams explains the context of the controversial remarks that got him fired and explains the need for debate without vilifying opponents.

Juan Williams interview on The Daily Show

Commentary from Time magazine on the effect of polarizing politics on news networks:

Can a mainstream outlet survive?

A collection of older New York Times articles about bipartisanship:


Swinging in the wind

The 2012 presidential campaign is in its infancy, but both parties already have a poor showing among swing voters like me.

We don’t follow a party or pundits. Syndicated columnist David Brooks wrote, “Independents are herds of cats who find out what they think through a meandering process of discovery.”

But the independent or unaffiliated vote is vital to candidates: According to a 2010 Gallup poll, 38 percent of voters self-identified as Independent, besting the Democrats (31 percent and slumping) and Republicans (29 percent).

The Republicans have an uphill battle for capturing the swing vote because of several issues:

1. The rhetoric

The first Republicans to test the field spent more time talking trash about Obama than explaining their own solutions to the nation’s problems. Donald Trump got the campaign off to a bad start for the GOP by being outspoken in questioning the president’s birthright – despite official statements from Hawaiian officials that Obama was indeed born there, despite the presence of birth announcements in local papers the week Obama was born (which Trump said were surreptitiously placed by the grandparents to enable the baby to have benefits, as if the U.S. government counted a birth announcement as a legal document), and despite the fact that numerous news organizations and political adversaries who would benefit greatly from uncovering evidence of fraud have failed to do so.

Some news stories about birther impact on the GOP:

Just behind Trump in the polls was Mike Huckabee, who has said he believes Obama is a natural-born citizen yet frequently emphasized Obama’s foreign ties, clearly indicating Obama is not “one of us.”

Now the frontrunner – and actual declared candidate – is Mitt Romney, who immediately called Obama “ineffective” and a failure as a president. Not as bad as the birther debate or the pundits who drop fear bombs like “Socialist,” but not what I want to hear. I want to hear how Romney will craft policies about taxes and roads and jobs and health care. But there’s still plenty of time.

2. Unions.

Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Jersey have set off a firestorm by restricting the rights of public union workers. Here in Wisconsin, I’ve heard numerous Independents say they will think twice – or three times – before ever voting for another Republican governor. In fact, I’ve heard Republicans say they will be scrutinizing candidates from their own party more closely before supporting them.

Even Mama Grizzly Sarah Palin came to Madison and supported Walker, a dangerous position for someone who claims to speak for common folk. Many of her followers are laborers who are either in a union or acknowledge the idea that unions can give a voice to people who don’t have the money to participate in our political system, a system where money is clearly power.

But the Democrats also have a union problem. As a candidate Obama vowed, “If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States.” Obama apparently lost his sneakers and offered little support to union workers who desperately needed it. The state Dems in Wisconsin were the only ones to stand up for organized labor.

Recent news stories show the strain between Democrats and unions:

But most of all, Obama has a credibility problem: he made promises he didn’t keep and set deadlines he couldn’t meet. Even his health-care bill, which makes incremental improvements to our system, hasn’t addressed the health-care crisis as promised. And Guantanamo Bay is still open — a subject of debate, true, but still a promise unkept, which could leave unaffiliated voters wary to trust his promises.

So until the candidates settle into positive rhetoric and real solutions, independent voters will be swinging in the wind.


The David Brooks column about Independents: