The Real Center of American Politics: A Reflection on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert

restore sanity keep fear aliveThe true center of American politics isn’t found where most of us agree. We fiercely disagree. That’s not a problem. Democracy assumes disagreement.

The true center is about how we resolve those disagreements. Most of us believe we should work them out respectfully.

We don’t believe in winning political arguments through bullying, name-calling, lying, intimidating, or using violence.

In other words, the political center isn’t about what we decide It’s about how we decide. The center of American democracy is a commitment to vigorous debate, done honestly and civilly.

That’s why some of what we’ve been witnessing recently is troubling.

Consider the foot-stomping incident in Kentucky by Rand Paul supporters, just outside a Senate debate. Or Alaska GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller’s security detail handcuffing a reporter from a liberal-leaning website.

Consider last year’s congressional town hall meetings where members of Congress were shouted down, a Tampa town hall meeting turned violent, and gunshots were fired at Democratic campaign headquarters in Arizona.

Consider the outright lies about “death panels,” “government takeovers,” and the President’s nationality.

Consider Rep. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” outburst against the President on the House floor.

Robert ReichAnd the vitriol emanating at all hours from rage radio, yell television, and Fox News – against immigrants, intellectuals, “coastal elites,” gays, and the President.

We’re better than this.

This is not respectful disagreement. It’s thuggery. It has no legitimate role in a democracy. And most Americans are fed up with it.

Sadly, we needed two comedians to remind us.

Robert Reich

This article first appeared on Robert Reich’s Blog. Republished with permission


  1. Jason says

    Yes, its only 1 side. Its not like the democrats/left, including this President, arent busy calling half of America stupid or unable to think for themselves. Its not like they are calling half the country racists who cannot disagree on policy issues, their true motivation being fear of a black man. None of those things are happening, there are only bad acts being done by the right.

    And you wonder why progressives lost support? You are the same as those you decry. Its why so many are independent. People are finally realizing neither side can be trusted, even those you thought were on ‘your side’.

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