F. Scott Fitzgerald believed a good way to test one’s mind is to hold two opposite ideas before the other and try to continue functioning as normal.
My mind, hopefully in a similar fashion, is occupied with two things: the recent vote not to convict former President Donald Trump of inciting the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, and how this country can move forward from political extremism. Here are the facts, and the solution that follows from them.
Trump made history as the first president to face impeachment twice; now, he has made history again as the first president to evade impeachment twice.
Some may see that sentence as a credit to the man’s political record, that the indefatigable Trump has beaten the rap and won the day from the Washington establishment once again.
I, however, see nothing of which to be proud. How can a president be impeached twice in one year? Most importantly, how can a president whose rhetoric against our nation’s democratic election dripped with lies and incited individuals to attack our seat of government escape punishment for his actions?
With help from members of the Republican party, who seem to have no problem with populism and immoderation, Trump was not convicted by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, even though the final vote was 57-43 in favor of finding him guilty.
If seven Republicans had not crossed the aisle in favor of conviction, the vote would have been tied along party lines. I believe they were right in breaking with their party mandate to protect and defend the President of the United States, because they demonstrated they could survey the evidence presented before them and draw their own conclusions. If they had stuck with their party, the vote would have been a perfect (read flawed) polar split.
And that is the other problem. Nowadays it seems that the extremists on the left and the right have all the power, and the American people are trapped in a Newton’s cradle of political ideology that ricochets back and forth every election cycle.
How can a nation founded “by the people, for the people” survive when it only hears perspectives from five percent of the population on the far left and five percent of the population on the far right?
We must run our government with a sense of moderation and of decency. We should certainly make stands for what is right, and we should never forget to consider all sides before we act.
We as a nation must reform together as citizens of a democratic republic, united around the things we have in common and acknowledging the things that make us different. We can only continue the mission we began with the ratification of our Constitution 232 years ago if we come together around the ideas which made us unique.
I fear that with all this talk about left and right wings we’ve forgotten about the bird in the middle. It is the bird, after all, that flaps the wings, that steers them the way it wants to go. Rather than assigning ourselves to either wing, why don’t we find a seat between the head and the heart. If we approached things with moderation, maybe we would avoid extremism of any feather, as long as we focus on the bird, and not the wings.