As a registered independent, not only do I get targeted as the elusive "swing vote" when it comes to the elections, but all too often my independent voice and moderate viewpoint is drowned out by the overbearing political extremes. Frequently, those classified as independents get the inaccurate onus of being apathetic or dispassionate when it comes to politics because we don't share the fervor, hatred and vitriolic sentiments espoused by both sides of the aisle. This unmerited classification doesn't consider those who are well-informed and share a zeal for governmental topics but don't adhere to or pay homage to the polemic partisan environment; instead, opting for a path of moderation.
Aristotle said, "The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom." Moderation as a virtue is something that has been endorsed and advocated for centuries from the aforementioned Aristotle to Cicero and the Romans through the Bible and the virtues of the Catholic church. Fortunately, in our modern lives, moderation has taken a foothold in our behaviors, actions, speech and food consumption. We have the knowledge and wisdom that eating two Triple Baconators daily and finishing it off with a pound of fudge will be hazardous to our health. However, we do temper ourselves by allowing occasional and sporadic indulgences of these caloric behemoths.
That is why it is even more surprising that a virtue that governs much of our lives suddenly evaporates (along with wisdom) when confronted with contemporary politics. There is a cognitive dissonance that takes place in some minds that allows even the most temperate and commonsensical among us to turn into hate-filled extremists who spew horrible and untrue things. Perhaps this is the natural result of a two-party system that simply adopts polar opposite viewpoints and portrays anything that disagrees with its position as without value and intrinsically evil.
Although the origin and continuation of this partisan and divisive behavior is debatable and yet another source of discord and schism between the reigning parties, the fact remains the current political atmosphere is toxic, corrosive and certainly not conducive to effective political operations. This unyielding and unwavering support for one's opinions leaves no room for doubt or weakness because uncertainty and openness are seen as traitorous acts.
Even as both sides are reading this column, they are in their minds or aloud blaming the other party for this continuing dissent into harmful bickering and ineffective governing. Or some will even try to pick out words and phrases in this column and try to discern if I am really a closet Republican or Democrat simply masquerading as an independent so as to corrupt my true meaning and support the security blanket of party politics to which they so desperately cling.
Either way, I pray for a return to the virtue of moderation, that long-held, sacred and important ideal that has resounded throughout all civilizations. I ask that you remove the self-imposed blinders and evaluate the myopic understanding presented by one party. I believe what you will discover is the truth (as it so often does) lies somewhere in the middle.