I'm sure it will continue for a very long time, but I hate both sides of American politics. One side is hell bent on not doing anything while vilifying everyone and everything, spreading fear, while the other side wants to spend money on everything you can think of in the name of a big group hug. I like the latter group only slightly more because at least they don't hate everyone. They still suck. I can't understand how people will rally behind any of them.
But it's clear to me that there are people who think along the lines of a true third party. I would say, "thinks more like me," but that isn't necessarily always the case. What do those people look like? How would I describe them? Can it be done in a bulleted list?
- They believe in personal responsibility, but understand the impact of socioeconomic factors. In other words, they aren't into the naive perspective that everyone has an equal shot, because they don't. A kid growing up in a poor, racially segregated neighborhood, with crappy schools, high crime and poor representation does not have the hope and perspective of an affluent white kid in the suburbs. Stubborn ideology doesn't change that.
- They are fiscally responsible, and willing to slaughter sacred cows. That means they don't want to subsidize huge new programs (social or otherwise), but also dig into the expensive things we already buy on credit, like a military that is bigger than it needs to be. They don't budget for planes that the joint chiefs don't want. They close the loopholes that protect the wealthy. Responsibility isn't just about the spending, it's about the taxation.
- They reject war mongering, but value the military and its veterans. So many Americans seem to think these are incompatible ideas. The VA has to be better than it is, and we need to take care of the soldiers and their families that have seen the worst of humanity up close. At the same time, they can't be so cavalier with the lives of future Americans, and the civilians worldwide. The only reasonable judgment is restraint.
- They understand that foreign policy is not best achieved by chest thumping. Arrogance makes America feel good, but humility is what serves it as a part of the global village.
- They give more than lip service to civil liberties. You can't wave the flag and rally against gay marriage (I'm surprised some of these idiots have finally let that go), force your religious ideology on women's health, or try to enact voting deterrents. You can't want everyone to gun up while opposing these other liberties. It's the worst hypocrisy.
- They believe in free market capitalism, but also understand that there is a time and place to regulate it. The market can sometimes make really bad decisions: see the last recession and the ridiculous housing lending. On the other hand, messing with the minimum wage is something that has to be carefully considered, because the consequences are serious. This is another area that you can't naively apply an absolute ideology.
- They are scientifically literate and embrace science as a part of a forward moving society. So they don't bring a snowball into Congress and assert that it's proof that climate change isn't a thing. They understand the value of space travel and experimentation around really big ideas.
- They believe that healthcare is a right. This is probably the most left-leaning thing I believe, but sticking to the system that we have is not in our best interest, because it doesn't work. You should not face financial ruin because you lose a job and have cancer, or can't work because of the cancer. Knowing you have healthcare also removes one of the greatest barriers from entrepreneurship, which is good for America.
- They absolutely reject xenophobia, embrace logical immigration. People coming here are not hurting our future, they're making it better. Whether they're the guy from Mexico in my neighborhood building houses, or Elon Musk from South Africa changing the automobile and power industries, they're paying taxes and moving us forward. That isn't something to fear.
- They respect the intelligence of their constituents. I realize that this might be a problem with the constituents, but imagine politicians that talked policy instead of sound bites, and news media covered that for people to actually think about. It's a hard problem. Ask someone what they don't like about [your politician here], and their best answer is probably that they're "ruining the country."
- They don't accept money from corporations. This is probably the hardest problem.
The current crop of presidential candidates don't fit into this at all. The GOP is so extreme to the right (and pandering to a ridiculous minority) and gives only lip service to fiscal responsibility. Meanwhile, some Democrats are leaning too far left, believing they can solve many problems with more government (and they do a fair amount of pandering as well).
I know a surprising number of people who see eye to eye with me on these points, and I bet 10 years ago they would have squarely fit into the red or blue category. Not so much anymore. I suppose this is partly because of the extreme left/right pandering, the divisiveness that has been pervasive for the last decade. I'm curious to know how many people agree with this mix that samples the former values of both parties.