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Ryan Smalley: The true silent majority

Ryan Smalley | Other Voices

I’ve been active in politics for my entire adult life, and I have my own very strong opinions regarding many issues. I have been a registered voter since I was 18 years old.

Here’s the caveat: I understand and accept that I’m not going to get my way on every issue. I’m not a dictator, nor would I ever want to be one, or live under one’s aegis.

The functioning of a healthy representative democracy is predicated on compromise, and in this era of two party tug-of-war exclusively composed of presidential executive orders, a complete absence of meaningful legislation, and extremist ideologues dominating each respective party narrative, I see a silent majority that’s not getting any media attention.

A recent Gallup poll indicates that greater than half of all registered voters want a viable third party. I’m certain that this is a group that lacks a uniform and cohesive worldview, but I have a suspicion that it is mainly comprised of people who are willing to compromise for the good of the country, and who have grown tired of the incessant posturing, grandstanding and useless platitudes coming from the two major parties.

I believe this majority wants to find solutions, not create more problems and conflicts.

The minority — the smaller groups of hardcore Democrat and Republican sycophants, as well as the radical left and right — would rather act like recalcitrant adolescents who refuse to obey their parents at the dinner table. They prefer to win the game in lieu of finding the best solutions to our problems.

So why is this silent majority of adults not speaking up?

I can only answer with an assumption based in my own experiences: We have been called every conceivable name by the political extremities simply for asking rhetorical questions, trying to give coherent explanations of an opposing perspective, and expressing nuanced opinions on different issues, as well as the general state of the union. We refuse to toe the line for a political party. We simply want to do what works best.

Unfortunately, that often provokes insults and ad hominem attacks from both sides.

The uncomfortable reality is that liberals need conservatives, and the right needs the left, because history has clearly shown us that when one group holds a governing majority for too long, an authoritarian regime will be born. I’d personally prefer if that doesn’t happen.

This is a message for the populist extremists on both the right and the left: You’re not going to get everything you want. That’s life. That’s how it works. Mick Jagger even wrote a song about it.

I’ll be waiting for the left and the right to grow up, to take responsibility for their own hypocrisy, and to hold themselves accountable.

The nasty names they call each other are correct. If they could simply engage in a respectful Socratic dialogue, I would take them more seriously.

The first party to do it will win my vote because I believe compromise and unity under shared values are more important than policy at this point in time. Until that happens, I will not be voting. I have a feeling that I’m not the only one.

If this column passes editorial review and is published on social media, I expect that the ideologues and sycophants will be engaging in the obligatory debate over which group wins the prize of being slightly less terrible than the other.

To those afflicted with the sickness that compels them to participate in these pointless virtual battles of feigned willpower, I will say only one more thing: You are part of the problem. Please stop.

For the rest of us, it’s time for the adults to put things in perspective for the children. In the meantime, let’s hope they grow up soon.

Ryan Smalley lives In Nevada City.


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