“The Rant” Part 2: Why am I writing?

By Ashley Bean Thornton

(Second in a series of posts inspired by a rant that caught my eye on Facebook.  Click here to see the original rant.  This post may not make much sense without reading the first post:  Click here to see “The Rant” Part 1).

 Thinking about this rant makes me ask myself: What the heck do I think I am doing posting thoughts about politics in the first place?

I have always been a voter, but I have never been especially involved with politics other than that.  Right now, I think of myself as a moderate democrat, but once upon a time I thought of myself as a moderate republican.  Whichever party – I always thought of myself as being pretty close to the middle.  I don’t really feel like I have changed that much.  It feels more like the political world changed around me. Both parties seem to be becoming more extreme.  I definitely don’t like what I am seeing on the extreme right, but I’m not all that crazy about what I’m seeing on the extreme left either.

I don’t believe there is a perfect way forward when it comes to most issues. I do believe, though, that with some semi-respectful negotiating and a little behind-the-scenes horse-trading we can come up with workable agreements even when we don’t necessarily agree. I believe workable agreements are the best we can hope for in a democracy, and I believe democracy – frustrating as it may be – is the best we can hope for as far as a way to govern ourselves.   I believe we have done pretty well with our workable agreements and democracy so far, and I believe we should always be trying to do better.

I do not believe yelling, name-calling, threats, and insults help us come up with workable agreements.

I do understand that yelling and name-calling have been a part of politics ever since politics was invented.   Yellers and name-callers keep it interesting and entertaining.  Those of us in the middle watch calmly and with a slight, but comforting, sense of superiority.  Thankfully, a few boring-but-skilled-statespeople quietly keep the actual work of coming up with workable agreements moving forward.   This imperfect way of working together has kept us lumping along, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse, since 1776.  Until pretty recently I thought I could take it for granted.

I’m not sure that I can take it for granted anymore. I’m worried that our boring-but-skilled-statespeople, always an endangered species, are drawing dangerously close to extinction.

Like algae covering the surface of a pond, the yellers and name-callers seemed under control a few years ago, but now it seems like almost overnight they have covered up 95% of the surface of the water. Our boring-but-skilled-statespeople are having a tougher and tougher time finding a political habitat where they can survive.   I had been lamenting this sad state for a while when I realized – I am responsible for maintaining that habitat.

We moderates are the ones who maintain the habitat for the boring-but-skilled-statespeople.   If they die out it will be because we did not take care of them.

We moderate types are not used to getting involved.  I am not used to getting involved.  I am not sure what to do.  This blog is a way for me to try to figure out what I can do.  I have a very small circle of influence, but I am going to try to reach out to those of you in that circle who think of yourselves as moderates.  What should we do?

One thing I think we can do is work to improve the civility of discourse amongst ourselves and our friends who disagree with us.  That’s what I think this “rant” series is turning out to be.  I’m learning by doing.  I’m going to work on that for a while and then maybe I’ll have some other idea of what to do.  When I know better, I’ll try to do better.  I feel like I need to do something.


1 Comment

  1. Cassy Burleson on April 16, 2023 at 9:56 pm

    I’m with you.

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