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Scoot: The Silent Majority versus the Vocal Minority

America is more divided now than at any other time in modern history!  We are divided along many lines, but the most obvious is along the line between Republicans and Democrats.  Most of America is not “far right” or “far left,” but “moderate.”

Ultra-conservative radio talk show hosts have given a negative connotation to the term “moderate,” defining it as a weak and indecisive position for judging politics and social issues.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “moderate” as “avoiding extremes of behavior and expression.”  But in the world of political debate, the word “moderate” is used to define Americans who are not “far right” or “far left.”  But, in the absence of being extreme, one is not disqualified from having strong, definite opinions about any and all issues.  The word “moderate” can also be used to describe those Americans who can be very opinionated, but refuse to view all political and social issues through the myopic political perspective of the “right” or “left” - and that actually describes the majority of this country.

In his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, author Jonathan Haidt writes, “In moral and political matters we are often groupish, rather than selfish. We deploy our reasoning skills to support our team, and to demonstrate commitment to our team.”  Haidt is pointing out that we align ourselves with a team, Republican or Democrat, even though we may not agree with every belief of our team.

Rather than allow the media to force us to select a team, which we do to gain an identity, we should consider that most of us do not agree with every play our team calls.  There are countless Republicans who support issues overwhelmingly aligned with Democrats, like:  being pro-choice, in favor of new gun restrictions, supporting same-sex marriage, the legalization of marijuana and immigration reform.  And, countless Democrats are anti-abortion; oppose gun control, same-sex marriage, legalization of marijuana and immigration reform.
While the tendency is to define oneself as “right” or “left,” the majority of Americans are not “true” Republicans or “true” Democrats…technically, they fall into the category of “moderate.”

Over recent decades, the candidate, who wins the general presidential election, is the candidate positioned as a “moderate” of their party.  Bill Clinton may have been a liberal at heart, but he won both elections by presenting a more moderate image during the campaigns.  George W. Bush was known as the “compassionate conservative,” suggesting an ideology that is anything but “far right.”  Even Ronald Reagan was more moderate than the “far right” would have you believe today.

Election history is littered with the debris of “moderate” Republicans, who were pulled to the right by the Republican Party and lost the election:  Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.  When each of these candidates was guided to the right from their more moderate images and true leanings, they were no longer operating from their comfort zone – they were not totally honest about their beliefs and projected opinions about issues based on trying to win the election, rather than how they honestly felt about the issues.  Honest words and body language became victims of an insincere ideology.  And as liberal as many Americans perceive President Obama to be, he won in 2008 by appearing to be a moderate candidate.

Political hypocrisy is rampart in America and is the result of the pressure to declare allegiance to one party or another, while maintaining many crossover views.  As the American people, if we are not honest about ourselves, how can we expect politicians be honest about themselves?

Younger generations (under 45), women and minorities have slowly been changing the political mood in America and that was a shock to the Republican Party in last year’s presidential election.  By the admission of the Republican Party leaders, they miscalculated the direction in which America was headed.  There is still a vigorous attempt by the party to attract that large segment of voters once known as “Reagan Democrats.”  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has appeared to be a moderate Republican, yet there are those within the party who suggest that if Christie hopes to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2016, he must move to the right.  Wrong!  Whether it’s Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or any other Republican in 2016, failure to present a moderate agenda during the campaign will ensure another victory for Democrats.  Even though many right-wing conservatives cling to the belief that Republicans must promote issues like, opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage - issues that are actually moral and personal issues, not political issues - as part of the party’s message, acceptance of those and many others as campaign issues will continue to make Republican candidates less attractive to voters.

In the same way that Republicans cannot be too far right, Democrats cannot afford to be too far left.  If Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, she will have to work to establish a much more moderate image in order to win the general election.

The political and media icons of the “far right” and “far left” will see their stars begin to slowly fade as the light shines on a rising opinionated moderate movement.  The stark division between Republicans and Democrats has been mostly the product of the hate that has become part of today’s political discourse.

Rather than be one of the many sheep in a flock that blindly follows a political shepherd, challenge yourself to admit that you are not a political hypocrite and that you do not agree with every aspect of the party with which you most closely identify.

For years we heard about the “Silent Majority” in America.  In recent years, we can see that those who made the most noise in politics and in the media were actually the “Vocal Minority.”  Why shouldn’t the majority in America become the “Vocal Majority?”

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Locations : New Jersey
People : Bill ClintonBob DoleChris ChristieGeorge W. BushHillary ClintonJohn McCainJonathan HaidtMarco RubioMitt RomneyObamaRand Paul

08/13/2013 8:04PM
Scoot: The Silent Majority versus the Vocal Minority
Please Enter Your Comments Below
08/14/2013 10:28AM
Lelt, Right, and Center
You are very right Scoot. Depending on the issue I find I can be very left, very right, or very center. I registered as and independent when we moved to the state in the 70's and have never changed it. I wish the rest of the country would go to open primaries so we can diminish the power of the parties.
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