By William Barron

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

The midterms are over, and we really need to ask; is no middle ground? The far left and right are controlling their parties.

Extremism, unrelenting and unwavering, has crippled a divided country and our legislative bodies. There isn’t any effort to compromise for fear of alienating “the base.”

Our discourse is based on misinformation and fear with little or no supporting facts. They have become elevated shouting monologues. Who is representing the folks in the middle?

The inconvenient truth is: It’s our own fault. We’ve let it happen. We’ve disenfranchised ourselves. We surround ourselves with those who think, sound and act like ourselves.

We are comfortable being with ourselves and very uncomfortable with being someone different. We like our tribe.

We have become voters who focus on singular issues and will support whoever promotes that special interest. Because of single-issue extremism we now vote against, rather than for, someone.

It no longer matters there are no fact-based debates and “facts” are made up and unchecked. This type of support blinds us to all other aspects of the person.

It’s now acceptable to lie to the public on a wide range of issues, as long as the special interest is supported. It’s all right to harass, bully and ridicule people, publicly and privately, who don’t agree with you.

We have turned a blind eye to and given tacit approval for unacceptable behavior. We now live by the standard: “the means justify the end;” it doesn’t matter who’s hurt if we win.

We, the folks in the middle, want someone who understands that centralism is needed to govern. We need representatives who understand and encourage differences of opinion and the calm civil debate of all those positions. We must support civility, honesty and disagreement. We want statesmen rather than politicians.

People with whom we may honestly disagree with on some issues as well as agree on others; but on balance believe the person wants to make this country and state better for the whole not just the fringe.

We need leaders and representatives who build collaborative alliances, not defensive bastions, to advance solutions for the population at large.

Statesmen who believe in and practice principle centered leadership. Who aren’t afraid of not being re-elected, but willing to do what’s right.

They should stop encouraging public chastisement of people. They should aggressively, and publicly, reject any and all forms of discrimination and ridicule.

All sides matter in these discussions of our future, not just the loud ones and/or the ones from their base. They should listen and propose legislation, which is balanced and for the common good.

We are a diverse population and are stronger by embracing our diversity. Growing because of our diversity, not in spite of it. We in the middle understand change and respect are necessary to move forward, as individuals, as a state, as a nation. We know you can’t move forward if you can’t let go of the past. We are the majority and yet our voices are shouted down, and opinions summarily dismissed.

This representative republic can do better. We must not sit idly by while the country is bisected. We must do better if we want someone to represent us. It’s up to us.

Let’s first represent ourselves better and stop condoning unacceptable behavior.

— William Barron lives in Bend.

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