- Cullman, Alabama

September 12, 2012

Middle ground in America

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The return of Congress to Washington for a pre-election session amounts to a grand waste of time for Americans who expect anything more than a low-rate political sideshow.

Other than tossing up enough to keep the government running, everything of consequence will be pushed forward to await the outcome of November’s presidential election. In other words, Congress will engage in entertaining rhetoric aimed at miserably clarifying each member’s choice in the election.

Republicans will criticize tax-and-spend Democrats and point to President Obama as the root of much of the problem. Democrats will take up the other side and label Republicans as insensitive, inflexible and out of touch with reality. Just call it a rerun of the respective parties’ presidential conventions.

While this mockery of purpose unfolds in Washington, Americans continue to struggle with unemployment. Worry mounts about the deficit. Companies continue to shift jobs overseas.

Many party leaders simply brush off the pre-election show in Congress as understandable because of the pending election. Many Americans find such an attitude offensive.

Looking at the long-standing polarization that has gripped Congress in recent years, voters may be wondering what difference the election will make, on side or the other. And that pessimism is not healthy for the nation.

The ideology of political parties certainly has an impact on voters, but not likely as much as the starry-eyed true believers who are elected to represent the public. Americans generally recognize the value of compromise for the sake of moving forward. People are exceptionally gifted in recognizing that there is two sides to every story, and that even the opposition has a good point or two to make.

Americans are concerned about rampant government spending, but having a government that can ably respond to the needs of fellow citizens with compassion is important, too.

Aside from a handful of extremists in the liberal and conservative corners, most Americans find a lot of common ground.

As election day approaches the idea of finding common ground is important in American government. Perhaps too much emphasis is placed on the presidency and its powers. Congress should do a better job of representing the heart and soul of the American public. Compromise is not weakness; it is maturity and a greater representation of American voters.