The Great Middle appears to be alive and well.
I was honored and humbled last week by the emails, voicemails and hand-written letters I received in response to my column explaining why we decided not to run an editorial decrying President Trump’s maligning of the media. I turned it into a call to what I termed “The Great Middle,” those reasonable, largely nonpartisan voices that tend to get silenced in our hyperpartisan, hyper-pugilistic culture that’s fueled by social media.
Here’s just a smattering of some of the comments I received from readers of that column:
“I will spare you any political rant — we have all done too much of that. But what we haven’t done is reflect enough on who we are as citizens in the U.S. The ‘Town Meeting’ captured by Norman Rockwell…. ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington’ that Frank Capra wrote/directed…..and now ‘The Great Middle’ which encapsulates the before, present and future of America — thanks for your poignant words.”
“In the 33 years we have lived here and taken the paper your editorial in today’s paper was the finest and best thought out editorial I can remember. Congratulations. My wife and I are two of the ‘great middle’ you speak of. Thanks again for having the courage to write what you did. Well done.”
“I appreciated your editorial this (morning) and the perspective! Although some do, I would never judge a paper for expressing different opinions/editorials regardless if I agree and think we all need to be more tolerable of other opinions.”
“Today’s piece you wrote, ‘Why we didn’t run that editorial’ is one of the best you have written. It really came across as coming from the heart. Those are always the best. Undoubtedly you will get some complaints (but I think you will get mostly positive/neutral). So thanks!!! I really want the Idaho Press to be fair minded. It is good to hear from leadership like we did today.”
It’s worth noting that I received a healthy cross-section of people on the political spectrum, from folks who support Trump to folks who can’t stand him and many in between.
One of the hallmarks of The Great Middle is the ability to see the nuances, the shades of good and bad in any number of situations or positions. As I like to say, “Those who see the world in black and white tend to lack gray matter.”
So let’s keep this thing going. I’m calling this “The Great Middle Project,” and I’d like to give voice to those people who are able to see — and understand — many sides of any issue, those who are able to think in nuanced ways about gun violence, trade policies, why the economy is doing so well but wages haven’t improved, whether some federal regulations are too onerous that, if eliminated, wouldn’t harm the public and whether, when it comes to foreign policy and dealing with ISIS, talking tough and threatening serious consequences is the most effective strategy.
You’re also able to recognize that nearly any decision, any action by the president or the government in general can certainly have good consequences while at the same time have bad outcomes, too. It’s not all black and white.
Let’s start a civil conversation on this page through letters to the editor and guest columns sorting through some of these issues, recognizing that if someone supports some of President Trump’s policies and actions, that doesn’t mean they’re a raging fascist. And if someone else thinks that universal health care isn’t such a bad idea, that doesn’t mean they’re a liberal commie. Recognize that, necessarily, if you’re in The Great Middle, there are going to be people who are to the right of you politically and those who are to the left of you politically. Heck, sometimes you find yourself to the right politically and to the left at times.
I’m looking forward to meeting you in the middle.