The 2022 election day is behind us, but as of this writing, the election is far from over. Races around the country remain contested, heading for a run-off, or likely to wind up in the courts. I can say only one thing for certain about this election; that a lot of voters are unhappy with the results.
Part of this unhappiness is about the declared winner of a local election. With so many close races, you can be sure that roughly half of the voters are unsatisfied with the results. I believe this has very little to do with support for the losing candidate. It is usually about disliking the winner even less.
Candidates who received the most media attention this election cycle were the ones who were exciting because they were awful. As a group, they brought few new ideas, made unsupported and outrageous claims, and consistently demonstrated that they were unworthy of holding office. In most cases, voters will tell you that they voted for the lesser evil – a choice that has become more difficult with every election cycle.
The media would have us believe that America is a nation ruled by extreme views with no chance of reconciliation. Media reports portray the electorate as made up of vast numbers of voters who want to invalidate elections, provide pornography to children, make abortion illegal under all circumstances, and destroy the economy. The good news is that none of this is true.
National media promote stories that are often exaggerated or skewed so that they bore scant relation to facts. Other sources have provided us with real data more accurately describing the views of the American voter. Economist Morris P. Fiorina, in his data-rich book, “Unstable Majorities” presents well-researched information about the opinions of the average American. Not surprisingly we are not as far apart as the media and political parties would like us to believe. Most voters actually agree on subjects like same-sex marriage, abortion and even gun ownership.
The majority of Americans are solidly moderate in their views, not subscribing to extremes of the left or the right. Yes, we have areas of disagreement, but we also have a lot of common ground. A friend once told me that he complained to his therapist about how difficult some of his co workers were. They “refused to listen to reason” and immediately opposed any new ideas. The therapist had interesting advice. “Try asking this person to listen to what you have to say and respond only to the parts of your ideas he agrees with,” said the doctor. “Then you do the same when responding to his comments.” My friend did exactly that, and guess what? It worked. By concentrating on the common ground rather than the disagreements, the two were able to devise solutions to business problems that seemed otherwise unsolvable.
This brings me to a secret superpower that each of us possesses. We have been granted the ability to listen. Now, I don’t mean the usual way we listen during arguments (this same therapist once said that ‘the opposite of talking is waiting to talk’). I mean to really listen to what is being said and focus on the common ground on which we can agree (I guarantee that it will be there).
If we have so much in common, then why do we hear the exact opposite from our candidates? They all seem eager to point out that only they can save us from the evils of the opposition. The answer lies in the party politics that have taken such a strong hold of candidates both Republican and Democrat. Highlighting the extremes and exaggerating the threat of those who disagree plays into the parties narrative and captures media attention.
When campaigning, most politicians mysteriously lose that superpower that the average voter possesses. I believe that the time is coming when we will elevate a new class of candidates who possess this power – the power to listen and accept new ideas to work for a freer and better society. This will occur because the people will demand it. The fastest-growing block of voters is the Independents. These voters do not blindly subscribe to party politics – they want to support individuals who have earned their support rather than toeing a party line.
Liz Terwilliger is an independent voice for the people of PA’s 9th District. Liz is also a founding member of Reform Congress, a national non-partisan movement for responsible representation. Learn more at https://reformcongress.us