Of all the participants in this nation’s political system, you’ve likely suffered most under this ongoing stalemate.
You’re the Foot-Soldiers in this skirmish, and you stand to lose the most at the hands of our political gridlock, because our system has proven itself unwilling to set aside its own needs for the benefit of the American people.
Despite the fact that many of you identify yourself with the “political middle,” (the Pew Research Center reports it as 31 percent) the leaders in each of the trenches have largely ignored your priorities because you aren’t their most powerful customers. You don’t donate large sums of money or wield significant power, so you’re the last on their list of ideal customers. (Until election season, of course.)
That same study by Pew revealed that independent voters have a largely negative view of partisan politics, and yet you may have found yourself dragged into the middle of it by the current political climate.
Maybe, like many, you entered the fray voluntarily in hopes that you could positively impact the system. Or maybe you find yourself here as a result of the constant fear-mongering that drives the American political system.
Whatever the reason, you likely realize by now that the Foot-Soldiers have little control over the party ideology even as they routinely find themselves fighting for its very survival. Like the soldiers in the Christmas Truce of 1914, you might even recognize that the people in the opposing trenches aren’t so different from you. But like the soldiers on the World War I battlefield, you’ve been forbidden by your leadership from showing kindness to the enemy.
The Juggernaut demands unconditional loyalty and it doesn’t permit people to make their own decisions. It demands uniformity. It ignores the nuances of difficult situations and insists on an all-or-nothing mindset. You’re either for us, or you’re against us.
Worst of all, no one is really clear what it would look like to “win” this battle.
This ongoing stalemate has left everyone on the battlefield exhausted and hopeless, and that tension fuels the two major parties. They need it to keep the existing balance of power.
The good news is that people on both sides of the spectrum have recently seen the American people begin to rediscover their voices. More people voted in the 2020 election than have ever voted in a presidential election in this nation’s history, and though the outcome is contentious, we can carry that engagement forward to benefit the voters instead of the parties.
America was designed to operate according to the consent of the governed, and even the best leaders will benefit from frequent reminders.