“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein
If the current conflict between the right and the left can be considered difficult at best, then perhaps Albert Einstein was way beyond his years. At least politically. And politics was something he was not known to tolerate very well.
Historically, there has never been as large a gap between the two parties as there is today. The hyper-partisanship that exists in our Nation’s capital is exceeded in size only by the egos of our elected representatives. Both sides claim to be the victim; yet both sides are actually the perpetrator. The American public is the real victim.
It seems obvious that there might indeed be opportunity somewhere in that difficult position between the two polar ends. And if that’s the case, and keeping in mind Einstein’s logic is not something you should question, just where is the middle and who is in it?
Republicans have no clear national leader and may not for some time; probably after the 2014 mid-term elections at the soonest. The problem is numbers and attitudes. The conservative elements of the Republican Party, especially social conservatives, do not have the numbers to claim party-wide leadership. In fact, their numbers are dwindling. Some tea partiers, although certainly not all, wear the “Does Not Play Well With Others” t-shirt and tend to alienate the regulars. For their part, the regulars resent the brash, rigid, energetic, sometimes needlessly secretive newcomers. This is a formula for disaster.
Meanwhile, increasingly left outside the tent, the moderates and remnants of the old Northeast/Midwest based GOP are aging and vanishing from the Republican Party. These moderates – and I count myself as one of those aging Midwesterners – feel out of place in a party that has so many factions seeking converts – not compromise and governing coalitions. This sort of group dysfunction has occurred in the Republican Party before. And it has happened within the Democratic Party as well. Rarely does a party go the way of the Whigs, who could not adjust to the growing abolitionist movement and ceased to be relevant.
Perhaps somewhere, the beginnings of a new party that will draw more heavily from the opportunistic middle may be stirring. Or perhaps a new, more inclusive Republican leader is set to emerge. Whatever comes will challenge the Democrats, who have drawn ever leftward as the Republicans have headed to the right. Any successful political future, however, must include more voters from the middle, which is the only way to get to 50 percent plus one. And that middle just happens to be where many women and men, natural-born citizens and immigrants, and blacks, whites and Hispanics find themselves today.