Connecticut Post (Sunday)
On becoming a Liberservative
Last year I became so disenchanted with the bickering among the two major political parties that I decided to change my affiliation to “Liberservative.” It seemed like the Democrats and Republicans were mostly drinking from two opposite bodies of water ... with both sides spewing only partisan absolutes.
On virtually all issues the sparring typically turned into school-yard quarrels. It sounded like my 8- and 9-year-olds grandsons yelling at each other, “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Both Dems and Reps were adamant and unwavering about their positions. Caught in this crossfire were many Americans, like me, with a growing thirst for a reasonable and sane middle.
My town’s voting registrar said there was no such party as “Liberservative.” She suggested I consider becoming an Independent as that was the closest to what she believe was the Liberservative idea. Independent didn’t cut it for me. It didn’t capture the essence of what I was looking for. I finally went with “Unaffiliated.”
Yes, I know non-aligned voters can be tagged as “vanilla-ites.” Often they are suspected as being subpar leaders because they can’t make definitive choices.
I don’t recall when I first came up with the Liberservative idea. Probably it’s linked to my college days. Back then I recall believing that the middle was a good place to reside. But that is not to suggest I began shying away from making tough decisions when called for.
Perhaps my middle leanings were linked to James Reston’s columns in the New York Times during about the 1960s. He wrote that this country always swung back toward the middle after turmoil. He felt we were a centrist country, just as many recent polls find today. And his words came across with a soothing touch that usually led me to feeling hopeful about our future.
Regrettably few columnists today suggest that our country is going through one of those temporary swings that Reston identified. And that it would eventually rebound as in the past. Yet there are some columnists do show promise.
Unfortunately, our current cable-TV stations add to the contemporary angst. They bash the other side constantly. Some do it disguised as nonpartisan news. But it’s still bashing — only with sweet toppings. A colleague, a onceavowed watcher of a liberal-leaning TV channel recently said, “I can’t take it anymore. It’s all onesided.”
But I do see hope. My belief is that part of the thirst in this country is for news that covers all sides and reports objectively. And that feeling is more widespread than it’s being given credit for. I hear it in conversations with colleagues when I shared my Liberservative notion.
And I hear it in other places. On a recent flight I jotted down a few notes about this column. The passenger next to me asked what I was writing about. When I told him about the Liberservative idea he said, “I am with you 100 percent.”
There are many who think that those on the extreme ends of the political scale are being put in the spotlight while those in the middle remain in the background. They never voice their opinions openly, not like the Twitter Mob who take pleasure in tweeting their most vile thoughts.
Our U.S. history is filled with movements of all sorts going back to the American Revolution. About 50 years ago we had The Silent Majority. Later we had the New Left. I think we are at the beginning of The New Middle. These are citizens looking for nonpartisan unfiltered accounts of the daily news and less bashing of those who view the world through different lenses.
Some in the media see the advent of this New Middle thirst. News outlets have begun scheduling programming that touts the middle. Sirius radio brands itself as such. An ABC legal analyst has a program that promotes itself as covering all sides. More of these programs are already here or on the horizon.
So, what makes a person a liberservative? It’s an individual who can hold opposing political positions and be flexible based on common national needs and circumstances. Such an individual might have been referred to in the past as a centrist, an independent or a moderate. But I see the term “liberservative” as more broad and yet inclusive. The word itself has a sense of allure, pizazz and a newness.
On July 18, 2015 I told Harley, a taxi driver, that I would one day write an article title On Becoming a Liberservative and include some of his political observations.
That day I took a taxi from the Washington, D.C., airport to a hotel. I was attending a convention. Soon I become so engrossed with stories from Harley, a 78-year-old African American, that I asked him to pull over so I could record his observations.
He shared personal vignettes about race relations and how white people had helped him. He told me we should judge others by what they are inside and not by how they look, speak or stand.
But he also spoke about the lack of give-and-take among political parties with their absolute onesided views. He summed up his thoughts saying “There no such thing as all for anything and everything” commenting about political absolutism.
I still have that recording and replay it occasionally. I listened to in writing this column. It’s a reminder about our politics and the absence of give-and-take. I wonder what Harley might say today about what’s going on politically throughout our nation.
I am no “futurist about what is to come. I am just an observer of trends. And I believe this undercurrent movement to the New Middle has legs.