The Partial Consent of the Governed
Are we the citizens of the United States responsible for our political polarization? The fact is we live in our own bubbles. This is true in politics and everyday life. The lack of civility is rampant and there is evident distrust on both of the polar opposites, far right and extreme left. The problem with extremes is that they take issues beyond where the vast majority of us live or want to be. Polls show that most of us are center right or center left. We often hear the phrase socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Many of us are put in camps under the catch all of Republicans or Democrats and even if we disagree with some of the issues of our camp, we feel the need to defend the team. It has become a blood sport played out in social media and ported over to our everyday lives. I for one am fed up with it as are most who fall into the camp of the silent majority. Our problem is the silent part of this designation. Our voices are not heard, and we are not represented.
Our country was founded on the concept of the consent of the governed. The authority of a government should depend on the consent of the people, as expressed by votes in elections. Around 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election. However, those 138 million Americans only make up 58.1% of our voting-eligible population. This makes my point. We are being governed but only by the partial consent of the governed.
I fall in the middle of the political spectrum and try to form my opinions through evidentiary analysis. Facts are facts. For example:
Do we need healthcare reform? Yes, in short, healthcare costs are too high, and it is negatively affecting the lives of people in a multitude of ways. In CNBC article they site “A new study from academic researchers found that 66.5 percent of all bankruptcies were tied to medical issues —either because of high costs for care or time out of work. An estimated 530,000 families turn to bankruptcy each year because of medical issues and bills, the research found.” The cost of preventive care is unaffordable for many sending low-income people to the emergency room, raising costs even higher. High costs made the U.S. health care system cost twice as much per person compared to any other developed country.
Do we need to control our boarders? Yes, not the least of which is national security and the ability to monitor who and what comes in and out of the country. Think beyond the southern border to see all the venues where drugs, contraband, and potential weapons of mass destruction can be brought into the country.
Do we need immigration reform? Of course, we do. Our immigration laws are antiquated and do not reflect the realities of current times and the will of the people. We need to reform the laws and then enforce them. Regarding impact, The Bipartisan Policy Center estimated that in 20 years meaningful immigration reform could reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion.
Do we need to reduce our national debt? Yes, at $22 trillion and rising, the national debt threatens America’s economic future. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the budget deficit will rise from $897 billion in 2019 to $1.4 trillion by 2029, which would create an overall deficit of $11.6 trillion from 2020 to 2029. Our future is at stake.
Do we need government to rule all aspects of our everyday lives? Never. This flies in the face of personal liberty and freedom which is the foundation of our country. On the other hand, we do need government for the greater good and protect elements provided for us in the Constitution and the laws passed by our elected leaders. There are great ideas on the right and the left, but our branches of government are in their respective camps and compromise is a dirty word. We are letting perfection be the enemy of good enough to the extent that nothing gets done for us, the governed. We can all agree that this is gridlock.
I don’t pretend to know what to do about all of this, but I am convinced that the founders had it right. They intended our government to hear the voices of and be responsive to the people. Not through social media or sound bites on cable TV but by the participation of the voters. What we have to focus on is getting out the vote for the 41.9% of eligible voters who did not exercise the franchise.
I am convinced that this country is populated by decent people that as a collective will make good decisions but if a significant minority of those eligible to vote do not, then we are representedby those with the most passion or the loudest voices. In other words, we are only represented by the extremes. By the expansion of voter participation, we moderate the extremes. The average of all votes will move us to the center. We will always have a polarized far right and extreme left, but the silent majority is in the middle and begs to be heard. This group is dedicated to getting things done and not shouting worthless platitudes that get so much media attention. Progress through compromise has worked before and is needed now more than ever before. Get out the vote out and let more of the governed be heard.