What does the Sensible Majority look like? It looks like you and it looks like me. You are reading this article -- and looking for solutions to the incivility and distrust that divides our nation -- so you are clearly a member of it. The Sensible Majority consists of people who have more important, more meaningful, or more enjoyable things to do with their lives than to participate in the contest of political insults. The Sensible Majority is made up of citizens who are smart enough and experienced enough to know that difficult problems can only be solved through cooperative effort by thoughtful people of diverse beliefs and backgrounds.
Politics has always been rough stuff. Any student of history knows that there was no “golden age” of American democracy when all of our politicians behaved with decorum toward one another all of the time. Politicians have been lying to voters as long as there have been elections. So, the Sensible Majority is not expecting politicians to hold hands or suddenly become enamored of the truth. What we expect and require is that our representatives be effective. Big societal and political change happens when expectations and results are not aligned. Our government has not kept pace up with our expectations; so bigger changes are yet to come.
The presidential primaries and the general election of November 2016 brought a big change in who could win the highest office and how one campaigns to win it. The campaign and election laid waste to long held beliefs of pundits and party leaders about how political success is achieved. So, this must be the big change the Sensible Majority wanted to see? Not likely. The election was merely what the financial markets refer to as a “dead cat bounce”. What that means, is that we haven’t reached the bottom yet. Our view of government is going to get worse. It is already clear just two months after the election, that there will not be much effort to build ad hoc issue coalitions across party lines.
The Sensible Majority will not be satisfied until our political leaders first agree on a set of American priorities. Not Republican or Democrat priorities. Not conservative or progressive priorities. American priorities. Then we can focus our efforts on reaching and implementing workable solutions to these priorities that the Sensible Majority can support. It’s been done before. When the majority is focused, we solve big problems.
What issues are a big enough and important enough to command the attention of the Sensible Majority and form the basis of a consensus American issue agenda? Just what you would expect: high quality jobs, national security, affordable healthcare and education, civil rights, wealth disparity, etc . . . The problem is not identifying the important issues. The problem has been who has set the agenda and picked the priorities among those issues. It has not been the Sensible Majority. It has been highly focused special interests who have taken advantage of the difficulty of engaging the Sensible Majority and solving the big problems. That is going to change. The Sensible Majority has taken notice.
Copyright © 2017 by Jeffrey Scott Szorik