If there’s one thing that became even more evident after watching the last two weeks of convention coverage, it’s that rhetoric surrounding health care and hot-button social issues is more polarizing than ever. With the exception of President Bill Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, the bulk of speakers at both the RNC and DNC played heavily to the base of the parties while virtually ignoring moderates and independents.
If you side with Republican talking points, then you might believe that “Obamacare” is an affront to our civil liberties, a complete government takeover of health care, socialized medicine at its worst, legislation that puts a bureaucrat in between you and your doctor and ultimately, a jobs killer.
If you side with the Democrats you might believe that Republicans are trying to throw us back to the dark ages by banning access to birth control, forcing rape and incest victims to birth the children of their abusers, let anyone who gets sick die if they can’t afford health insurance, and abandon our seniors by ending Medicare as we know it.
Is this really what it’s come to? Can a woman not be pro-life and in favor of the Affordable Care Act, or pro-choice and still believe that entitlement programs need to be reformed? Is manipulating voters and dividing them on social issues when the country has an 8.1 percent unemployment smart politics, or the politics of last resort? At this rate, is it really any surprise that Congress approval is at an all-time-low?
People—as well as the decisions they make--are a lot more nuanced than the language found in party platforms. Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina alluded to this last weekend on Meet the Press when she said “In the end, the platform, frankly, doesn’t mean much. The Republican Party has pro-choice Republicans just like the Democratic Party has pro-life Democrats. The Republican platform hasn’t changed.” But people do change, and their positions on issues can evolve over time. While Fiorina may have a valid point, she also stopped short of admitting that no candidate in her party could ever win a primary by taking a pro-choice position.
With only two months until election day, it would behoove members of both parties to tone down the rhetoric and start explaining to voters how they plan to start solving some of the myriad problems facing the country. Instead of condescending to voters and taking intransigent positions on wedge issues, candidates should be presenting policy ideas that might actually improve the lives of those who vote them into office.