If the Founding Fathers had not compromised, sometimes on fundamental principles, this country would never have been created. If successful politics is the art of the possible, and compromise is what makes it possible, then a scorched earth, winner-take-all approach defines failed politics.
Welcome to this National Common Ground Examiner web page. I’ve put up a few articles already but now I’d like to introduce myself and tell you what I intend to do here.
As a college student in the early ’70s I considered myself to be on the Radical Left. At the same time I was dating a young woman whose parents, whom I came to be well acquainted with, were John Birch Society members. I found it utterly fascinating to speak with her mother in particular, for hours, and to read every word of the Birch literature she loaded me down with.
It struck me then that the political spectrum was not a straight line running from left to right, but a circle. While the circle was incomplete and had a tiny gap between the far right and far left, those two groups were far closer to each other than either was to the middle. It was at that point that I started my journey to the middle. Truth be told, I’m not sure I was ever really Radical Left; that may simply have been the popular youthful conceit of those of us who called ourselves hippies.
For years after that I was a Democrat, and active in the party, including a stint as a precinct committeeman. Eventually, though, I became disillusioned with party politics and the way that even outright hacks got full party support even if the opposing party put up a far better candidate. The quality of leadership was not key, party affiliation was. I left the Democrats.
There was no way I would become a Republican. In my eyes, both parties were too much alike, with the main difference being that the Democrats wanted access to your wallet and the Republicans wanted access to your bedroom. I didn’t want either of them having access so it seemed the only natural thing to do was to join the Libertarians, which I did.
The radical middle
Somewhere around this same time I became acquainted with the concept of the Radical Middle or Radical Center, as presented in the books by those names of Mark Satin and Ted Halstead/Michael Lind, respectively. I read both books and made up my mind that this was my brand of politics. Essentially socially liberal but fiscally conservative. But lacking a good alternative, I stuck with the Libertarians.
I never took an active part in the party but always voted for Libertarian candidates. Finally, though, in this last election, the Libertarian Party, in my eyes at least, showed itself to be just as committed to partisanship–forget the ridiculous idea of doing what’s best for the country–as either of the two major parties. So I cut my ties with them and became an Independent.
In this last election I escaped most of the name-calling and demonization going on by the simple expedient of not watching television. But I was not unaware of it and it disgusted me just as much as it did all of you who subjected yourselves to the barrage. Then, a few weeks ago, I heard about a group that was forming that believed as I did in a return to civility and to members of Congress working across the aisle with each other for the good of the country. This group calls itself No Labels.
As a writer with foamcage.com since its inception, as their National Motorcycle Examiner, I saw covering this movement as an opportunity for me to work for what I believe in. At first I considered taking the title of No Labels Examiner, but then chose Common Ground Examiner. Mainly, I didn’t want to affiliate myself that closely with No Labels in case they fall flat or go in a direction I cannot agree with. Also, there are other groups with similar purposes and I intend to examine and report on the goals and actions of as many of them as I can. Common Ground seemed the better choice.
In my initial articles I have focused on No Labels, and I intend–for the time being, at least–to continue following the group closely. But it really is the whole business of people working to find common ground that is my true interest.
As one of the speakers at the No Labels launch on Dec. 13 said, paraphrasing New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, there are no Democratic potholes or Republican potholes. There are potholes and it is the job of those in positions of leadership to fix them. This web page will be all about getting potholes fixed.