No way to meet in middle

A recent Pew survey confirms that America has become increasingly politically polarized. Ten percent of voters report they are liberal and 10 percent conservative. The total of 20 percent represents a substantial increase from earlier periods. That fact, coupled with the viewpoint held by about half of each side that the opposite side is essentially anti-American, accounts for a great deal of the political intransigence, that is the unwillingness to compromise, gripping governments, state and federal.

Optimists take comfort in the fact that this leaves 80 percent who consider themselves moderates and theoretically, therefore, willing to take in-between positions and thus grease the wheels of government. But, I view those who call themselves moderate as basically apathetic, disinterested in the functioning of government, consumed by their own self-interests and unlikely to resolve the basic issues that divide conservatives and liberals.

How else can one account for primary turnouts hovering around 10 percent of the electorate? Most people just don’t care. Politicians, ever anxious to protect their jobs, react to this apathy by toadying up to whichever extreme sect holds sway in their political district.

Besides, most of these divisive issues do not seem capable of resolution by compromise. What is the in-between position on abortion? Liberals take the position that adult women have a constitutional right to abortion within the first two trimesters as held in Roe v Wade. Conservatives believe that women have no reproductive rights.

The complete conservative position goes much further than just denying female rights. Embodied in the so-called personhood laws, it denies contraceptive rights to both sexes and, in essence, represents a sort of sanctification of sperm.

But, just considering the narrow conservative view of abortion, what positions lay between no rights and some rights? More limited rights, like a one trimester boundary? Conservatives would not agree to an abortion right within the first trimester since they do not even concede the right in the face of rape or incest. Liberals would strongly resist any such compromise because it would be an irrational erosion of the Roe standard which has a rational basis founded on the principle of viability.

Patrick Radcliff

Vienna