It is mildly entertaining to read the campaign materials arriving in the mail daily. Michael McLachlan “works with both parties to solve problems.” J. Paul Brown has been “working with Republicans and Democrats alike” for the good of the state. It doesn't really feel like that, does it? We also hear daily that the parties are more rigid than ever and that compromise is a dirty word. Consequently, every issue is set up as a win or lose proposition.
The candidates know that most Americans would like to see an attitude of doing what's right for the state (or the country, or the county, or the jurisdiction of your choice) take precedence over what's right for the party, whichever party that might be.
But the other thing the politicians know is where the power is. The power to support or the power to cut a candidate off at the knees lies in the extremes. That's just not right, you say? Why? Is anyone stopping you from being an activist? If you can generate a following you can have the power.
Unfortunately, it is hard to fire up the middle of the roaders. Its hard to be passionate and outspoken about compromise. The hard work of studying an issue and developing solutions that are the best for the most is likely to be more tiring that inspiring.
My own limited experience tells me that a candidate who genuinely cares about his or her constituency is eager to hear a moderate voice that supports and encourages compromise when it's the right thing to do. Even better is a moderate voice with a constructive idea to offer. Those who represent us need to hear from us. They need the reassurance that if they do what's right we will be there to back them up.
Don't just sit and watch. Get involved at the local level. If not a candidate, an issue. You might be surprised that your voice can be heard. And just maybe you can be the voice of moderation; the voice a candidate might be longing to hear. The first step to making a difference is showing up.
Sidny Zink is a CPA and former Durango city councilor and mayor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.