We are a moderate country – and that’s the way to solve our problems
The Gallup organization has been polling people for several decades asking them what their political leanings are.
The latest results from a poll conducted with 18,000 adults in 2020 show 35 percent of respondents view themselves as moderates, 36 percent view themselves as conservative and 25 percent view themselves as liberals.
The percentages have not changed much over the past three decades. In fact, the conservative percentage is unchanged.
Our country’s population clearly profiles as a moderate to a conservative lean.
So why is it the people we have elected to find solutions to the nation’s problems don’t seek solutions mirroring that model?
For instance, all of us are horrified over the school shootings that have become all too frequent, the latest in Uvalde, Texas.
The first reaction from our president was to suggest the problem can be solved by tighter gun laws and outlawing of such weapons as AR-15s, with a heavy dose of blame toward the NRA and Republican lawmakers whom he inferred are in their pocket. The fact is, Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise is the top Republican recipient of funding from the NRA and their contribution to him ranks 33rd in amount behind such things as the real estate industry.
The Constitution that gives citizens the right to bear arms and four in 10 Americans say they own a gun, according to Pew Research Center, with most of them saying personal protection is the reason. Eight in 10 blacks view gun violence as a big problem, according to Pew. But only 49 percent of those surveyed believe there would be less gun violence with stricter gun laws.. The FBI’s National Crime Information Center reports that 60 percent of all stolen/illegal guns are handguns. And cities such as Chicago and New York with the strictest gun laws have the most shootings.
Why is it that we have stricter security at rock concerts than schools? By this fall, there should be armed security by active police, retired police, private security or retired military personnel at every school in this country.
It should not be up to teachers to bear arms in a classroom. They are there to teach. We are finding out there are plenty of warning signs preceding these tragedies in social media, behavior tells and threatening actions indicating mental imbalance in those doing the shooting, signs that family, school counselors and others should be picking up. Red flag laws, perhaps upping the age for some gun purchases and mental health measures with teeth deserve more attention than they are getting. And if we are going to have background checks, they need to work.
We should all want more legal immigrants. That’s where most of us trace our roots. It adds healthy diversity and a growing economy requires an expanding worker pool. The process of legal immigration needs to be quicker and easier. There should be more immigration judges to expedite cases and more personnel to handle paperwork and assist those seeking to become naturalized citizens.
But we need a wall to protect our borders from people who have no intention of honoring legal immigration policies. Our borders in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California are being overrun by caravans of people who, if their motives are pure, belong at a legal entry point. It is clear from apprehension statistics that caravans are largely populated by people looking for an easy way into this country, drug smugglers and human traffickers.
Imagine being a ranch owner and having your property besieged by strangers with no idea of where they are from, how they got here or what their motives are. If these caravans were at the front door of lawmakers, there would be a different attitude regarding the correct balance in immigration policy.
All of us should want everyone legally registered to vote, as long as they have proof of identity and cast only one vote in a verified manner. Georgia reformed its election process last year with measures including ID requirements for absentee ballots, limited access to ballot dropboxes, restrictions against volunteers handing out food and water to people in line, and expansion of voting hours. The state was demonized as racist and had an all-star game pulled from Atlanta, costing the city and business owners, many of them minorities, millions of dollars.
Fast forward to May, when the voting reforms played out to early voter turnout that jumped 212 percent over 2020 and record voter turnout overall. That’s hardly voter suppression. Meanwhile Pennsylvania struggled for a month over whether to count mail-in ballots received late and without a handwritten date signifying that an individual sent them in.
Where does Georgia go to get its all-star game, the lost economy and its reputation back?
Go down the issue list. Electric cars are a viable, environmentally friendly initiative. But they and the charging equipment are too expensive for a lot of us and a certain amount of fossil fuel and coal is needed to power them. And what happens when California has one of its rolling electric blackouts?
Wind and solar power are helpful parts of our energy portfolio, but they alone cannot handle the energy demands of our country. We still need coal and fossil fuel and need to emphasize nuclear power.
We don’t need to slander and neuter the traditional energy industry and punish people with $5 a gallon gasoline that fuels inflation in the hope they will buy electric cars that they can’t afford.
It’s fine to insist on police reforms, but defunding and demonizing police is not the answer. And when a black Republican Senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, makes a viable proposal based on his life experience and the other side won’t consider it, it shows too many politicians want to campaign on the issue rather than solve the problem.
And lax prosecution policies that allow people with multiple violations to keep committing crimes are making our cities unsafe.
It was left to actor Matthew McConaughey, a Uvalde, Texas, native, to give a heartfelt speech last week at the White House that largely amplified the moderate voice aching to be heard in this country.
Maybe a celebrity can shake lawmakers out of their partnership with extremes, which has done nothing to solve anything in recent decades.
David Troisi is the Sun-Gazette’s retired editor.