A Spark of Faith That America’s Best Days Are In Front of Us
April 20, 2020
If you subscribe to the morning newsletter of the conservative publication The Bulwark, you will have seen last Wednesday that they published an email reply from one of our fellow citizens in Columbia, Missouri—Ellen, a centrist Democrat, is a daily reader.
Ellen subscribes to The Bulwark because she used to have two Republican friends with whom she could discuss politics and thus stimulate thought on important topics. The Bulwark also helps Ellen “not fall into the view that ‘all conservatives are bad.’”
I myself find the content of The Bulwark informative and stimulating, and I love the opportunity to contribute my own op-eds every so often—I’m one of those Country First Republicans and writing is my therapy. But reading Ellen’s correspondence was as meaningful, or perhaps even more meaningful than anything I could write. To read rational respectful commentary, with thought provoking insight, from a fellow citizen, with a differing ideological viewpoint, was refreshing, and dare I say, sparked faith that America’s best days are still in front of us.
At times, it's hard to remember that there are tens-of-millions of Americans like Ellen—conservative, liberal, and all mixes in between—who are not only aghast at the polarized extremes in our country, but long for the day where honest, respectful, intellectual debate is abundant.
It is no secret, we as a country are driven by the extremes of both sides. But as myself, Ellen, the team at The Bulwark, along with millions of other Americans would likely agree, the polarized Republican and Democratic camps do not represent the majority of America. And in fact, there’s data to prove it.
Over the last year, according to the average of Gallup polling, Americans self-identify as:
28 percent Republican
29 percent Democrat
41 percent Independent
The vast majority of those independents do lean Republican or Democrat during elections, but what the polling shows is that Americans are decidedly anti-Party—anti-irrational self-serving political-elites.
One of the things that struck me most about Ellen’s email was her comment regarding COVID19, global warming, and the Republican Party.
“To me, the coronavirus is a warm-up for what is to come on the climate front. It is a scientifically well-understood problem, with widespread agreement on the kinds of interventions that are necessary to avert catastrophe. The GOP position is denial that there is a problem at all, while the problem worsens.”
Ellen is absolutely right.
Throughout February, the COVID19 message of the Republican Party was that the threat was all hype, created by the media so as to tank the economy and thus hurt President Trump and other Republicans. The president and Republican members of Congress rang this bell loudly even though they were receiving classified briefings and spoke privately of the looming danger. By the time President Trump did act, it was too late to mitigate the damage.
That sounds a lot like the Republican story regarding global warming.
It is the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community that global warming is real, it is caused by human activity, and poses a great threat to the health of Americans and to the American economy. But because that position goes against many special interest groups aligned with the GOP, Republicans over the last decade have seen fit to demonize the scientists and climate excerpts as a cabal looking to destroy the U.S. economy.
The Republican Party's modus operandi is to dismiss the analysis of experts and drive a message of economic destruction to incite the emotions of the party base so as to energize them for phone banking, door knocking, fundraising, and voting for Grand Ole Party candidates on the ballot.
Unfortunately for the United States, and the world for that matter, we have the extreme left to help polarize the debate to an even more unreasonable level. The response to the irrational position of the Republican Party is the implausible policy of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s (AOC) Green New Deal.
On one extreme we have a message that liberal Democratic scientists are lying, and on the other extreme, we have removing airplane travel and the combustible engine from American life, as well as significantly diminishing American consumption of eggs, meat, and milk—all of this within TEN YEARS.
As Donald Trump poisoned the debate on immigration, AOC and her band of social media stars have poisoned the debate on global warming. Both sides are irrational extremes. And unfortunately, this sharp polarization is the norm for almost every problem our great republic faces.
It is demoralizing. It feels as though our country is lost.
But with Ellen’s email, a spark of faith. I am reminded that even though one of the most incompetent men who has ever occupied the Oval Office is a Republican, hundreds-of-thousands of traditional Republicans voted for Joe Biden in Democratic primaries to drive the former VP to victory over a socialist. I’m reminded that publications like The Bulwark and The Dispatch have taken strong root and are now providing intellectually honest news and analysis from a conservative viewpoint. I’m reminded that thousands of Americans are working to reform the political system—to end gerrymandering, reform primaries, increase voter turnout, among other vastly important changes. I’m reminded of the goodness of the American spirit when I see millions of people cheering, clapping, whistling, banging pots and pans at 7pm as a way to thank our neighbors who are on the front-line fighting COVID19.
Because I know there are tens-of-millions of Americans who, like Ellen, are waiting for the chance to speak aloud their desire for pragmatism, I have faith that America’s best days are still in front us. Whether that day takes hold in 2021 or in some time thereafter, these Americans clamoring for rational honest debate are not going away. I have faith that one day their strength of numbers will usher in a new and better era for the people of the oldest republic on earth.