The Enlightened Middle Majority and Why “The Sides” Are Alienating Us

5 years ago

Never in a thousand dreams, would I have imagined myself a political blogger.  I may occasionally dangle my participles and I don’t know what up is.  I’m literally the farthest thing from a political pundit, and I’m just as shocked as my 7th-grade English teacher, to whom I still owe a report on Greek mythology. I’m just a mom who wants to hear from someone who makes sense, who gets me. Until very recently, when “My Friends Think I’m The Only Liberal They Know. I Don’t Know What I Am” was featured on BlogHer, I wasn’t someone who wore her politics on her sleeve. Maybe because of my waffling party alignment, and maybe because I was never sure people would still love me after a debate. But the current political atmosphere no longer affords those of us in the middle the luxury to hide.

In the comment thread for "My Friends Think," the brilliant Stacy Morrison, Editor in Chief at, said, “You know what I am? I am a woman, a mother, a worker, a home owner, a person, a voice, a collection of dreams and ideas, and I am proud to say that I truly believe people are allowed to think their own thoughts, all the time, even if I disagree with them. And, dammit, I am an American. Not a wave the flag American. Not a pointy-headed snob American. Just a person trying to make my life work and still have time for family, love and fun.” That’s why she’s editor in chief. In that one beautiful statement, she summed up what it’s like to be a woman and a mother in these difficult times. She also said, “I think it's SO IMPORTANT that we find a way to lead the awful, ugly, unproductive political discourse toward this same idea of COMPLEXITY.” Let me just say, I would switch teams, er…vote for Stacy Morrison.

About the same post, one of the wisest people I’m lucky enough to call friend said, “When I think of politics I think of the polarized world that we live in today. We, the public, are very programmed to measure everything, including politics, based on that polarity. Everything is good or bad, black or white, in or out, light or dark. I believe we are also trained to believe that where ever our personal choices fall, we must believe we are at the 'better' end of whatever scale we are using at that moment. ... we are always 'right' and the other guy therefore, must always be 'wrong'. I see little effort put into coming together somewhere in the middle. I believe a little (or a lot) of tolerance would help balance the scales.” She’s also the one who said she would describe me as enlightened, which is where the phrase the Enlightened Middle Majority came from.

Image twicepix via Flickr

Well, a la Flavia, “If I could sit across the porch from [those who think they’re] God,” and in response to Stacy Morrison’s “What DON’T You Want From The Election? JOIN US,” I would tell them a thing or two:

  • We women are busy, dammit. But don’t think for a moment that means we aren’t paying attention.
  • You MAY NOT take away our right to choose, because doing so would be the antithesis of religious freedom: it's forcing religious beliefs unilaterally down the throats of every American.
  • The term is pro-choice. No one is pro-abortion. That sounds like we're all for handing them out willy-nilly, using them as birth control, and doing something less than painstakingly deliberating such a monumental decision. Finding ourselves in a position that requires such a choice is not in the least frivolous, and babies deserve (and require) so much more than to merely exist.
  • Birth control isn’t perfect. If my college-aged daughter found she had to suddenly choose between a lifelong dream of a softball scholarship or unexpectedly being a mother, I would want her to be able to decide her own future, not Rush Limbaugh.
  • And speaking of birth control, if a doctor who prescribes contraceptives is in my insurance plan, then it’s none of my employer’s business what kind of drug he or she prescribes. That’s between me and my doctor. In the absence of an equivalent form of male birth control, singling out contraceptives as not being covered singles out women, and that’s discriminatory. Contraceptives should be no different than anti-depressants, Lipitor or any other drug.
  • Wake up and smell the fuel oil: “Burn Baby Burn” does not an effective campaign slogan make. It pisses off those of us who care about the legacy we leave behind for our children on this earth. And why would anyone so vehemently fight a future that provides jobs that take better care of our planet? Don’t ignore us, don’t patronize us and don’t make fun of things that are important to us; it makes us angry. And you won’t like us when we’re angry.

If The Pen Is [indeed] Mightier Than the Sword, why is it that those of us in the Enlightened Middle Majority seem to use the pen (or our keyboards) and the facts and reasonable discussion in an attempt to be heard and to understand, while extremists bomb abortion clinics?

OK, that’s an admittedly extreme statement.

But that's all any of us really want, and it’s the very foundation on which this country was built. We still don't want anyone to tell us whom we must worship, where we must worship, or that we have to worship at all, nor do we wish to stop anyone who wants to do so. Freedom of religion must also mean freedom from religion, and religious doctrines simply cannot enter into a political discussion of our rights as Americans. I believe in God. But I don't want anyone to tell me that I have to.

What I want is for our veterans who have been withdrawn from the battle fields where they've been fighting for this country to come home to good jobs and be able to feed their families. Many of the same skills they have been using to rebuild the infrastructure that was destroyed in Iraq and Afghanistan could be employed on a high speed train system in the US. JOBS. I want people who have for generations now been on welfare, to be taught and rewarded for seeking and maintaining jobs instead of the dole. There is no reward system in place to inspire people to want more, there is only suppression and perpetuation of poverty. I know this, because I was a single mom who wanted just a small amount each month to help supplement my income. I was denied because I had a job, but I didn't make enough to support my daughter and myself. I want children who are born into poverty in this country to have enough truly healthy food to eat, to be warm, to be loved and to have the same opportunities to be educated that my children enjoy. I want teachers (most of whom are women) to be paid what they deserve to be paid for building the very foundation of the future of our country in an environment that, because people are afraid and unemployed and angry and those feelings trickle down to their children, only becomes more and more hostile.  

We can no longer afford to be silent. Those of us who have never before considered ourselves activists have no choice but to stand up and be heard, and we must be counted. We must tell the politicians of this election cycle, and all those to come, that we are paying attention, and that we will not be ignored. That they may no longer take comfort in their "republican-ness" or in their "democrat-ness", but that they must pay attention to those of us in the Enlightened Middle Majority, stop being so divisive and find a way to promulgate change that really matters.  

I still don’t know what that makes me, but I know this: Extremism will get no one elected. Listening and debating RESPECTFULLY, tolerance, being open to compromise and ideology that sees beyond black and white, those are qualities of the candidate who will get my vote, and the votes of many who count themselves in the Enlightened Middle Majority.

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