Or: We’re Sick and Tired of Common Sense Ideas tossed off as “non-starters!”
October 17, 2014 could have been a bit of a watershed for readers of the Washington Post. The Post published an interesting convergence of ideas in what otherwise might have been viewed as three diverse columns by Michael Gerson, Catherine Rampell and Fareed Zakaria:
These three seemingly disparate pieces are worth reading together, with an eye towards synthesis and integration, terms we rarely hear in our politics anymore. We won’t describe the contents of the columns, other than to say even though each of these authors comes from different points on the political spectrum, their arguments are persuasive and reasonable (certainly in the spirit of Public Reason we discussed last time).
Our “watershed moment” occurred as we discussed the futility of centrist politicians presenting reasonable and common sense options given the lack of “public reason” in our current political system. We thought about how we can and must do better in the exchange of ideas in this nation…that’s the power of public reason.
These three excellent columns, and the fact that they are practically useless within the context of the train wreck that now passes for American public policy, should cast a spotlight on the need for a way around the polarizing Democratic and Republican Parties. The way our two parties “work” together today is placing our American Experiment at grave risk.
With a little intellectual curiosity and imagination, taken together, these three Post columns suggest how to bring about meaningful and effective change and get America back on track, relying on a handful of states to elect Independent and Centrist candidates.
The November, 2014 election offers the seeds of a “work around” to the current mess. The candidates we mention here may not be optimal…they rarely are. Many might even say they are flawed by ambition or wrong-headedness. Admittedly, we don’t know because we only distinguish them by what we can read in the magazines and papers…these candidates aren’t on the ballots of our home states. But these candidates do potentially represent our future. For this, we urge objectivity and “public reason” to the voters who can elect these candidates.
We strongly recommend the voters of Kansas, South Dakota and Georgia (and maybe even Kentucky) consider voting for the candidates who actually appear to offer an independent streak. Greg Orman in Kansas and Larry Pressler in South Dakota are officially on the ballot as Independents. Imagine how powerful it could be for our Senate for these gentlemen to caucus with the other two Independents in the Senate – to be a strong voice for a Center of America which cares less about politics and more about our nation. Those four Senate voices and votes could be huge.
For example, consider how amazing it would be to hear that these four Independents refused to vote for the present leadership of the Senate—Republican or Democratic. This could set the stage for the beginning of a change our nation so desperately needs.
Rick Weiland is the Democrat in the South Dakota race. He may also be a good change as it appears he may have an independent streak, as well. In a sense, he is appealing since the national Democratic Party has shunned him for not being Harry Reid’s pick. However, we find it hard to not encourage a vote for a viable Independent whenever it is an option given the urgency of our current state of affairs.
We also include Georgia and Kentucky because we believe Michelle Nunn, even though she is running as a Democrat, to be very centrist. And, we feel we have to consider Kentucky also. Allison Grimes’ election would displace one of the current polarizing leaders of the Senate and send a message that the status quo is no longer acceptable. In a world of Independent thinking, we’d like to see both Nunn and Grimes say that they are disinclined to support present leadership of the Senate, as well. That would be courageous and independent…and maybe even what voters really want to hear.
We’ll also note that we have a lot of respect for Lamar Alexander and Susan Collins, Republicans from Tennessee and Maine for their centrist approach, but unfortunately they would almost certainly vote for the would-be Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell.
These hopefully independent thinkers and would-be legislators who are unfortunately affiliated with one of the two currently dominant parties could make a difference if they only showed more concern for America than their party. We believe Nunn and Grimes are more apt to do that compared to their highly partisan opponents.
But, even four Independents would make a difference if they can somehow remain as independent and strong as the current two have. Four Independents might also attract some of the independent nature of those in the major parties who decide America comes first!
In a more “independent world,” we would love to see Nunn, Grimes and even some of the current Republican candidates, running and legislating as Independents. In reality, we understand that it’s almost impossible to win as an Independent. After all, we see the national Republican machine rushing to the aid of Pat Roberts and Mike Rounds in Kansas and South Dakota. That’s what party politics does.
We can only hope the voters of Kansas and South Dakota at a minimum will seize this opportunity to vote to secure “a way around” our present political disaster. We so desperately need these voters to exert some independent influence in the Senate and in their home states and reinvigorate the flow of good ideas and solutions for our nation.
Yes, we are so tired of common sense approaches being non-starters. Four Independents who believe in the original Independence of our nation and our politics could make a real difference for America!
Originally posted by Carl and Chuck Hunt, 10/19/2014.
 The Gerson piece is focused on learning lessons at the federal level, on both sides of the aisle.
 The Rampell piece is focused on leveling the playing field about sex education across all parts of our population, taking the politics out of such an important and pervasive topic.
 The Zakaria piece is focused on getting strategy and rhetoric aligned and reducing the political influence on another tricky Mid-East situation.