Being a political moderate instead of a hardline Democrat or Republican is more difficult, and that is why they are so scarce in our government.
Moderates listen to those with opposing views. They devote time and energy understanding all sides of debates before reaching conclusions or proposing solutions.
Moderates on both sides of the aisle, if they can be found, do not march in lockstep to the single beat of a dogmatic, ideological drummer. They are independent thinkers and disdain the "hive" mind.
The late Sen. John McCain is an example.
Moderates sometime employ the word "compromise," which in Washington, D.C., has become about as rare as the radioactive chemical element astatine.
The counter-arguments to this are that moderates (and independents) are wishy-washy and afraid to commit themselves to one political party with clear and established values; and that they — the hardline Democrats and Republicans –have looked at all sides of the issues and determined there is no need for debate or compromise.
Compromises in health care legislation, education reform, infrastructure renewal, immigration, environmental and foreign policy, specifically trade, could be achieved if there were more moderates and fewer politicians only concerned about the perpetuation of their careers.
Democrats have the reputation of "tax and spend" with an emphasis on education and social programs. Republicans are known for tax and regulatory relief to big business, with less emphasis on social programs.
Why not a merging of the minds: fiscal policies that help stimulate big business and the economy, but at the same time, a tax regime that funds health care (including coverage for pre-existing conditions) and critically needed programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and infrastructure renewal?
Granted, future taxpayer rolls will be significantly reduced by advancements in artificial intelligence and automation. However, 20th-century manufacturing and resource extraction industries will not provide enough jobs as the 21st century advances. Preparing a workforce for 21st-century jobs requires a substantial revamping of our education system, and that costs money. With fewer jobs and taxpayers, revenues will have to come from somewhere. More than ever, key compromises will need to be made across the political aisle.
And any administration or Congress that turns a blind eye to what is going on with the Earth's environment is effectively putting our children and grandchildren's lives in peril.
We all rally around the words "unity," "transparency," "bipartisanship,"
"civility," "honesty," but we now need actions instead of words. I'm not sure how much progress can be made in today's divisive political climate. But we all have to try, even those who don't consider themselves moderates.
A lifelong Alaskan, Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River.
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