Another View: America's majority hurt by political extremists

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On the one hand, the United States has a president whose detractors accuse of fascism. The Constitution doesn't allow fascist dictatorships, yet the president has certainly shown no antipathy to foreign leaders who rule with such an unchecked iron hand.

On the other hand, Democrats are undergoing a palace revolt from their own left wing. Already accused by Republicans of abusing the tradition of America by veering too far left, they are experiencing a wave of young recruits with outspokenly socialist views.

Extreme right versus extreme left. Pity the poor millions upon millions of Americans who subscribe to neither.

Both parties approach the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential race with unease. To many Republicans, Trump is too vulgar, unpredictable, vindictive and childish. To others, he is not consistently conservative enough.

Taking him on publicly, though, is still done at great political risk. The Democrats meanwhile face their own fork in the road: either seeking a middle ground that speaks to mature bipartisan governing, or riding the tidal wave of their New Left, which is speaking with a voice loud enough not to be ignored.

The party is finding that Bernie Sanders was not an isolated fluke. Democrats who felt confident backing the tried-and-true candidate in Hillary Clinton wound up with one of the most painful defeats in American political history.

As the two parties flirt with extremes at either end of the spectrum, the real loser is America because American diversity demands reasonable judgment and often, compromise. Serving up a checklist of agenda items that pleases either the far left or hard right, but excludes huge numbers of Americans, allows a temporary victory dance for the winners — only to produce more divisive and bitter showdowns later, solving nothing.

That is the danger of 2020, and one that's becoming increasingly possible. Among Democrats, this might actually help the candidacy of U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, an unabashed liberal but one with the ability to be heard as the mature adult in the room — distinguished from the hysteria of the far left and the zealots of the far right.

In short, Warren may not appear so unreasonably liberal to centrist Americans if other Democrats campaign even more unreasonably to the left than she does.

And Trump? Are enough people in the swing states finally tiring of the act? His support base will not budge under any circumstances, but will they be enough to win or will they lose the necessary support from voters who decide that four years of his public antics and tantrums are enough?

Most of all, can anybody out there appeal to one constituency without becoming absolutely hated by the other? American political figures of each party once did that, or at least tried.

Not today, as the Democrats weigh the potential and consequence of shifting even farther left, while Trump Republicans swerve to an uncompromising stance on the right. Pity the huge numbers of Americans who think the best government is one that leans one way but respects the other, rather than succumbing to the screeches of one with no regard for the other.

But the losing side will not disappear. It will leave the election feeling left out, disrespected and ignored. If extremism is the choice in 2020, the winners will enjoy only a brief celebration because millions of angry voters will be appalled at the choice they were given.

— The Republican of Springfield (Massachusetts), Aug. 2

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