Things have gone horribly awry and gotten way out of control. 

What happened to the middle ground, the common ground, a happy medium, empathy and insight? Call them whatever you’d like; they’re gone.

I choose to believe most Americans are basically reasonable people who fall somewhere in the middle between left and right, blue and red.

But extremism at all levels of politics and government is killing this country and threatening our own communities.

Will someone, some actual leader, please step up and meet us in the middle? It’s where most of us are, but you, members of Congress, wouldn’t know that. You’re all too busy hurling insults, laying blame and instilling fear while locked in an unending limbo contest with the other side. How low can you go?

Apparently, there is no bottom.

Each side now exists only to crush the other side, to win at all costs and vilify the opposition. What are you doing for us, the people who hired you, the people who pay for your egregiously generous health insurance packages while many voters go without?

This polarization is pulling us apart. This extremism is killing this country. Well, extremism and online idiots, but that’s a rant for a different day.

Certainly there are vast differences among us, but never have they divided us so viciously.

We all want to feed and enjoy our families, raise our kids, stay healthy, work a job that keeps a roof over our heads and food in our pantry. And we’d like to meet friends and relatives for an occasional cocktail (or nine, here in Key West). 

So why can’t we meet in the middle and find some common ground?

Why can’t I support and appreciate the good cops who serve and protect AND want the bad ones fired and criminally convicted to rot in general population? 

Why can’t I desperately support fair pay for effective teachers AND oppose the protection — and continued paychecks — for poor, or “underperforming” teachers?

I’m sorry, but if my peers and supervisors deemed me an “underperforming editor,” I’m quite certain I’d be an unemployed editor.

Why has everything become so black-or-white, red-or-blue, all-or-nothing, nationally and locally? Where’s the empathy, the tolerance, the willingness to listen to all sides and acknowledge that someone else may bring something to the conversation?

I don’t know what will happen on Election Day, but I hope to God some of the names on the ballot will stop running campaigns and start running this country and this community with intelligence, leadership, insight and empathy.

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