Lewis: When everyone hates the plan
In the world of politics, how can you determine if a plan is good? Quite often, it’s precisely because everyone hates it.
To be frank, I had lost hope that we would avoid a border catastrophe when Title 42 expired. However, the situation is surprisingly positive. Even Fox News reported a significant decrease in illegal border crossings. One crucial change in the Biden border plan is the distinction between legal and illegal entry for asylum seekers. Following the proper procedures through the app increases your chances of staying in the country compared to crossing illegally and then seeking asylum.
Interestingly, this plan seems to be disliked by both sides. Democrats, like Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas), label it as inhumane and “bad policy,” while the ACLU has filed lawsuits to block implementation, citing the rules as “complicated and difficult.”
Despite the new policy being stricter in many ways compared to the Trump approach and the notable decline in illegal crossings, Republicans offer little praise. Rep. Mark Green (R, TN) dismisses the 50% drop in illegal crossings as “insignificant.”
Ironically, amid complaints from both sides, Biden’s plan might have achieved a compromise that maintains order while providing a fairer opportunity for asylum seekers.
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In response to Terry Quinn’s letter seeking specifics from my column about centrism, this situation serves as an excellent example of what can happen with centrist approaches. In this case, Democrats criticize the plan for being too brutal and going too far, while Republicans argue that it falls short. It demonstrates the potential of a good centrist plan!
The issue of abortion is another prominent example where the debate tends to focus on extremes instead of exploring moderate positions where the majority could find common ground. Supporters of abortion bans acknowledge that most people want certain restrictions, and opponents of bans correctly state that most don’t want to prohibit abortions entirely. The problem lies in arguing the extremes as if the decision is binary, forcing states to choose between no rules or a complete ban. In reality, most Americans would have preferred to retain Roe v. Wade, allowing abortions up to a reasonable point, like 16 weeks, while permitting late-term restrictions.
Moderates face challenges in today’s political landscape, where arguments have become increasingly binary, forcing individuals to pick sides. It’s rarely that simple. Having lived in California, I disagreed with many of its overly progressive policies. However, I also find Florida’s approach under DeSantis to be excessively extreme, albeit in the opposite direction.
Extremists strive to gain support by presenting the only alternative as an opposite dystopian extreme, even when there are moderate middle-ground alternatives. Gun rights activists, for instance, portray even minor regulations like background checks as a slippery slope aimed at revoking the Second Amendment. In reality, it is a moderate approach that 88% of the population supports.
Conservative William Galston recently wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal titled “GOP’s Presidential Candidate Must Find America’s Moral Center.” While he acknowledges that some Democrats have also gone too far with ideas like “defund the police,” he rightly points out that the majority of Americans hold more moderate views on abortion, gun regulations, and LGBTQ+ rights. Galston argues that a GOP candidate expressing “cultural moderation” would have the best chance of becoming president.
In 1972, there were 160 “moderates” in Congress. By 2020, that number had dwindled to 24. Many attribute this decline to our primary process, where single-party candidates are selected, often favoring more conservative or liberal individuals. Additionally, the style of many politicians has shifted to an “either you’re with me or against me” approach, where compromise is seen as a sin despite its importance.
If you want to know if a view on something is moderate, use this simple test.
- Does it have the support of 60% or more of the population?
- Does it receive opposition from figures like Lauren Boebert calling it too far left?
- Does it receive opposition from figures like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calling it too far right?
If you answer “yes” to all three questions, then the view is likely centrist.
Mark Lewis, a Colorado native, had a long career in technology, including serving as the CEO of several tech companies. He retired from technology and is now writing thriller novels. Mark and his wife, Lisa, and their two Australian Shepherds — Kismet and Cowboy, reside in Edwards.