Anger is getting the best of us. (ken grotewiel)

    This Angry Moderate speaks out.

    In political ‘discourse’ these days, moderate views are hard to find. It’s the far left that is angry at all the ‘injustice and inequality’ they see. For the far right, it seems they are angry about losing ‘their’ country and wanting to get it back. For me, I’m simply an ‘angry moderate’.

    And anger has been even more on my mind lately since reading a commentary titled Have you noticed we’re all getting a lot angrier lately? by a young man named Charles T. Clark in the San Diego Union Tribune.

    Facts are fightin’ words these days. However, Mr. Clark’s supports his ‘facts’ by saying where he got them. It’s up to the reader to then decide whether the facts have a shred of accuracy. This is quite different than people on the left and right sharing ‘facts’ from TV ‘news’ shows. So, it’s thoughtful work on the part of Mr. Clark and he’s beginning to find his own voice, though not in the way I initially expected.

    Having been a former elected official in the Kansas Legislature, I gravitated to the parts of his commentary that talked about partisan divides. His research indicated that “people have grown more likely to view opposing parties as legitimate threats, with about 75% of Republicans saying Democratic policies pose a ‘clear and present danger’ and 64% of Democrats saying the same about Republican policies.”

    Clear and present danger is a high bar for declaring one’s fear of another party. Mind you, these are fears of an entire party — not a particular issue or even one particular elected official. The right wing of the of the Republican Party and the left wing of the Democratic Party give people plenty of issues to be angry about. This tribal fear of another party is an entirety new development in my lifetime, and I don’t get it.

    So, what is this angry moderate angry about? Nice of you to ask. I’m really angry that we have lawmakers at the federal and state levels not making laws about the substantive issues of the day. I’m no Pollyanna given my experience in the Kansas Legislature and the difficulties in the history of our Country’s lawmakers to wrestle with issues and find solutions — incremental and as imperfect as they always are. I was reminded of this recently when I ran across a newspaper from 1989. Same issues. Elected officials doing their best to deal with them. God bless them.

    In contrast to most of our history, today any compromise is total capitulation. Advocates today would rather hope for a solution in a mythical future where they will get everything they want.

    All Americans should be angry about the incessant finger pointing and the non-issues that lawmakers parade in front of us day in and day out. This strategy is both a deflection and a distraction strategy. And the political parties do it masterfully. We should be angry at Congress and State legislatures for not doing their job — and not angry at the other party or each other.

    As for this dog and pony show, I am more than angry. I’m pissed off. On all other issues, not so much. Over the last two years, I have been working to understand others with whom I disagree — and think about why they believe as they do. Any anger on my part toward others is only my thoughts and feelings bouncing off them and coming right back at me. It’s not changing anyone. It’s a zero-sum game.

    Thank you Charles T. Clark for writing your commentaries and your latest on Americans getting angrier. And thank you dear readers for letting this angry moderate get my feelings off my chest. More importantly though, it is vital to simply be respectful of those with whom I disagree, by trying to understand how they tick. My experience is that I’ve learned more about how I tick as I try to understand others.

    While I have faith that the partisan divide and cultural divide in our country will eventually narrow, a person in their own sphere of influence can help that ‘narrowing’ process by empathizing with others with whom they disagree — even if they never even meet them. It’s a ripple in the pond you know.

    Ken Grotewiel writes for the publication Our Sacred Democracy on Medium and is a Founding Member of the None of the Above Society.


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