A friend of mine, a Korean War veteran, was talking last week about a mutual friend of ours, who also served in the Korean War.
Opinionated would accurately describe both men. They often argued over issues, each one trying to shoot holes in the other’s point of view.
Then one day they both had the same epiphany: They realized they had fought in the same Army in the same war.
Randy Evans is the executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. He is a former editorial page editor and assistant managing editor of The Des Moines Register. Opinions are his own.
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At that moment, they realized an important detail that had gotten overlooked in their numerous debates — that even though they disagreed about the best course of action to address society’s various problems, deep down they both had America’s best interests at heart.
I wish all of us in the United States could reach the same sort of understanding my friends reached many years ago. I wish we could all agree that having policy differences does not mean the people we disagree with should be hated — or locked up.
A difference of opinion does not mean the other side is unpatriotic or traitors or the human equivalent of pond scum.
If we cannot reach this fundamental agreement, how are we ever going to make headway in addressing the issues the United States faces — issues like poverty, drug abuse, the changing climate, prescription drug costs, the long-term health of Social Security and Medicare, water quality, income inequality?
Which brings me to the 2020 presidential campaign.
Here are some observations from where I sit in the middle of Iowa in the middle of Middle America:
1. Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, even though he’s disliked more than a tough steak, watery gravy and kale. Depending upon your perspective, he may be the sorriest example of a U.S. president in our history, or you might think he is the most maligned president in our lifetime. But elections have consequences, and Trump is the consequence we ended up with in 2016.
2. It’s foolish for Trump opponents to push ahead with an impeachment effort in the U.S. House that two-thirds of Americans do not support. Even if impeachment were successful, I can predict with certainty what the outcome of a Senate trial would be. See Merrick Garland for an explanation. If most Americans didn’t even bother to read the Cliff Notes version of the Mueller report, why would 12 months of jawing over impeachment reverse Americans’ opposition to the i-word? There’s also a danger that continuing to beat the impeachment drum will only serve to alienate a majority of Americans.
3. Those voters who want to rid our government of Trump have the perfect opportunity to do that — on Election Day, on Nov. 3, 2020. Few of the people I encounter are eager supporters of Trump, especially his mouthy demeanor and his fidgety Twitter fingers. But these people are not itching for a drawn-out impeachment fight. These are people who are going to work each day, worrying about bills coming due, the leaky roof that needs fixing and the crops they can’t plant because the fields are too wet.
4. Democrats are kidding themselves bigly if they think future elections will be won from the left most fringes of the political spectrum. Those Democratic presidential wannabes who are trying to sell free college educations, elimination of student debt and government-provided health insurance for everyone have not been paying attention. They have not looked at what voters in the political middle of the road are saying and wanting. The 2020 presidential election will be decided by Republicans who can’t stomach voting for Trump again, by independents who voted for Barrack Obama a couple of times and then for Trump, and by those center-of-the-ideological-spectrum Democrats in traditionally blue states who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and held their noses and voted for Trump, instead.
5. If Democrats choose Bernie Sanders or someone else who causes moderate voters to cringe, then Democrats may as well brace for Jan. 20, 2021, when Donald John Trump takes the oath of office for a second term in front of a crowd wearing MAGA caps. The Democrats may decide they want a liberal to challenge Trump, but they should pick carefully because the White House is not going to be won from the extreme ideological left fringe. Google “George McGovern” for more on the consequences of being too far out in front of voters.
6. Democrats who don’t intuitively grasp this fact of life would be wise to recall how the Tea Party movement turned the Republican Party upside down and chased away GOP politicians poured from the centrist mold, people like George H.W. Bush. Those conservative extremists from the Tea Party adopted an attitude toward compromise that is best summed up as, my way or the highway.
That has not worked well for Republicans, and there is no reason to believe it would work any better for Democrats.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
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Randy Evans can be reached at DMRevans2810@gmail.com.