By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
She had a happy excitement about her when she asked if I was liberal.
Honestly, it’s not clear to me what my label should be. I tend to think about issues, listen to candidates, and vote my mind rather than with a party, so I don’t consider myself to belong to the Democratic or Republican party, or to be conservative or liberal. I guess that, if I had to put myself on the political spectrum, I would be a slightly conservative leaning centrist. The problem today is that, if you are middle of the road, you appear as a radical liberal.
I’m registered as a Republican voter, but I have not been able to vote for the Republican candidates for longer than I care to count. The simple truth is that the current Republican “leadership” does not reflect my beliefs or morals. I am not okay with spending money to build a wall along the border when statistics clearly show it’s not a problem. I’m not okay with sending troops to deal with hungry refugees fleeing war, rather than using the advance notice of their trek to prepare to receive and process them through our legal system as is their right. I’m not okay with temporary tax breaks for the vast majority of Americans, and permanent breaks for the ultra wealthy who are not paying their fair share even before the breaks.
Let’s be real, though. The far left has issues as well. Hillary and her party did, in fact, steal the Democratic nomination from Bernie through unethical actions. And while I do like the conversation that Bernie started, he’s too extremist as well. The concept of free college education for all is not well-thought-out. Somewhere in the early twentieth century, free education through high school was guaranteed for all citizens. In the 1950’s, a high school degree carried significant weight, but as a society, we forgot the difference between a guaranteed opportunity for and education, and a guaranteed degree. Teachers lost the power to hold students back for fear of lawsuits, schools lost the power to withhold diplomas for the same reason, and suddenly schools were being sued because students were graduating without the ability to read. Today, a high school degree holds almost no power (but it does hold some; try getting a job without at least a high school degree), and I believe the same thing would happen if we extended free education through a bachelor’s degree. However, every student should have equal rights and equal opportunities for the chance to an education. Personally, I believe an incentive program is better, such as guaranteed student loans, with variable interest rates, starting at 0% for a 4.0 GPA and running to some reasonable but small interest rate for graduating with a 2.0? Now the student has buy in, and reason to do well, which will help them throughout their academic career.
Today we are stuck with extremism. The best solutions are usually in the center if only people could see it. The ACA is a great example. I have a conservative friend who is upset because she has to pay for everybody else’s health care, when in reality, it’s the exact opposite. We have a system where everybody gets health care (would we want to be a nation where we allowed people to die in the streets?), but before the ACA, those who could afford insurance paid for those who could not through higher health insurance rates and higher medical rates to cover for loss incurred by those who could not afford their treatment. Through the ACA, everybody would have pitched in (at least in principle), and although some would pay more, at least, for the first time ever, everybody would pay something either through private insurance or fees for failing to have it. It is not perfect; I actually agree with many of the observations and objections of the Republican party, but rather than trying to fix it, they have been insistent on completely dismantling it. A friend of mine said that the Republican party has put forth many alternatives since the ACA to replace it, but when I challenged him to find even one, he failed. How much better would it be if we had a law where, yes, the Democratic party put it together, but the Republican party fixed it?
With my great apologies, I cannot endorse either of these extremes.