Since I spend a good bit of my time thinking about polarization and ways to combat it, I thought I would bring attention to three recent news items that should help reduce polarization but seem to mostly go unnoticed.
First, there is this from WaPo 10/24/2021, about a police chief in a town in Georgia, seeking to have police officers shoot to incapacitate rather than to kill (so, shooting in the legs or abdomen, for example, instead of the chest). Of course, it would be best if no one had to be shot at all, but those that (rightly) complain about police violence should be embracing this as an improvement as it would presumably mean fewer killings by police. And those who worry endlessly about “law and order” would seem to have to choose between that and saying “yeah, we don’t mind it if the police kill people.” Since the latter would likely be seen as including some nefarious beliefs, it’s hard to imagine why they, too, wouldn’t embrace it.
Second, from NYT 11/3/2021, is a short about a Swiss company literally taking CO2 out of the air and making soda with it. Why everyone isn’t talking about this ecstatically is beyond me. I know folks on the (pretty far) left who worry endlessly about global warming and claim we have to stop this and stop that to at least slow it down before we all die. I know folks on the (pretty far) right who claim, more or less, that global warming is fake news. Either way, this should be good news. If global warming is fake, then this sort of technological advancement may be uninteresting in the long run—but those on the right should be happy to say “OK, we know you’re worried, why don’t you invest in this to help?” If its not fake news (fwiw, it’s not), this may be the way to save us and the planet. Those on the left (assuming they don’t want simply to be victims and keep fighting about “green new deal” sort of regulations) should be embracing the possibilities, declaring “yes, we need more of this as a good way forward without killing the economy and making everyone worse off.”
Finally, from Axios 11/5/2021, is a story on the jobs report. In a nutshell, “America has now recovered 80% of the jobs lost at the depth of the recession in 2020. … Wages are still rising: Average hourly earnings rose another 11 cents an hour in October, to $30.96. That’s enough to keep up with inflation.” I know that some question the specific numbers. That’s no surprise. What is surprising (even given how bad Dems usually are on messaging) is that Biden and the Dems haven’t been touting this at every chance. It should please Reps a well except that it may make some swing voters less likely to go to their side.
The above three stories are pretty clearly good news for everyone. The third is perhaps better for Dems than Reps, but somehow they haven’t decided to hype it up or use it as a way to convince moderate legislators or voters to help them. The first and second are good for everyone. Yet it doesn’t seem like many are talking about any of the three. It’s almost as if both sides of our political divide want to remain divided. And to alienate those of us who refuse to take either side. Or perhaps they want to clearly demonstrate that neither side should be taken seriously and it’s high time for a party to emerge in the middle.
The “middle” here might be interesting. What party consistently opposes state coercion and force against civilians? What party consistently opposes the state looking the other way when negative externalities become worse and worse? What party consistently favors policies that grow the economy so that all will do better? There is such a party, even if it has its own problems.