There’s a scene in the movie “Independence Day” in which the mortally wounded first lady is being cared for by an exotic dancer. They have the following exchange:
First Lady: “I didn’t think you recognized me.”
Exotic Dancer: “I didn’t want to say nothin’. I voted for the other guy.”
I have written in the past about how, in representative democracy, power wells up from the people and is given to the President; that the President represents us as a nation. I may have interjected a pained grunt. The President is the president of the entire nation, not just the half that voted for him. However, lately we have had a sort of “To the victor go the spoils” mentality in our presidents. Candidates try to “mobilize the base” by appealing to one side of the country or the other and praying that enough folks in the center see them as the lesser of two evils. Candidates that try to move to the center are universally derided as being out of the main-stream. (The main stream apparently runs parallel through the middle of both parties.)
It was not always like this. Studying history, you find that for much of our history, moderates held sway. No one party had a majority, so the candidates from either party would try to get the lion’s share of the moderate, independent voters by appealing to them. But something happened. For as long as I’ve been alive it seems that the independent voters, the ones who do not buy either sides’ bullshit stopped caring. What’s worse, they stopped voting. Roughly 50% of Americans do not bother to vote. Whether from disenchantment, apathy, or the fatalistic feeling that their votes will not make a difference, the independent, central part of America stopped voting. When they did, candidates from both parties had to rely on getting as many of their party faithful to vote, and to do so they started drifting more and more to the outer fringes.
If moderate voters would get out and vote for someone they believed in, or even got together and picked someone with some common sense and decency, he would be a shoe in. Over half of any population, as seen in the normal distribution above (AKA the bell curve), are in the center. Which means that in order to get elected, the candidate must appeal to that center, instead of to the fringes. If the moderate voters do not vote, or vote for what they see as the lesser of two evils from whichever party, the bell curve starts to change. It becomes this:
Whichever side is able to get more of their “team” to vote, the better chance they have to win, and the people in the center (IE, the majority of Americans) will be left to vote for whichever candidate seems less odious to them. Until we’re left with:
A nation divided.
What we need is leaders that lead the entire nation. Or at least the majority: The center. We need politicians to be in the center, not screaming from either side like an episode of Crossfire. But it’s the people on the extremes of either side that care. They’re the ones, the rabid “true believers” in their cause that effect change because they care enough to vote. If the voters in the middle joined together and spoke, they could easily drown out the whack-jobs on the outer fringes of either side. I will leave you with this picture. It’s an image I found fascinating from the last election. It shows the election results as a gradient from red to blue showing how much each candidate won by in each county.
Sure there are some areas that are predominantly red and some blue, but America is not made up of red states and blue states. America is purple.