The “exhausted majority”

At Infidel753 blog, author Infidel has a great commentary from February 14th. He discusses an “exhausted majority” making up America which has found the ongoing politics to be unacceptable, having checked out of either side of the battle. Granted, the politics of elections and the thereafter has turned into a mudslinging contest. The news media reporting has helped to bring it to a new low. People do not even want to listen to the 20 of the 30 minutes of reported news after commercials are over.

Infidel753: The “exhausted majority,” Infidel753 Blog

The term “exhausted majority” has come up a few times recently in discussion, and it’s important to be clear about what it means.  It is not just another term for “centrist” or “moderate”, and it should not be allowed to degenerate into one.  As far as I know, the term originates here, from a study “The hidden tribes of America” which analyzes the political left and right wings:

While the story of the Wings may be one of division and conflict, a very different story is found in the rest of America.  In fact, the largest group that we uncovered in our research has so far been largely overlooked.  It is a group of Americans we call the Exhausted Majority — our collective term for the four tribes, representing a two-thirds majority of Americans, who aren’t part of the Wings.  Although they appear in the middle of our charts and graphs, most members of the Exhausted Majority aren’t political centrists or moderates.  On specific issues, their views range across the spectrum.  But while they hold a variety of views, the members of the Exhausted Majority are also united in important ways:

They are fed up with the polarization plaguing American government and society….. [they] are so frustrated with the bitter polarization of our politics that many have checked out completely….. they aren’t ideologues who dismiss as evil or ignorant the people who don’t share their exact political views.  They want to talk and to find a path forward

This is a profoundly positive development.  It’s horrifically toxic to have politics dominated by two opposing camps which view each other with fear, loathing, and incomprehension, refusing to listen to anything that doesn’t fit their existing narrative.  The important message here is that those two camps don’t speak for everyone, or even for the majority.  Most of us are sick to death of them.  As long-time readers know, I’ve made an effort to cut down the amount of politics on this blog, and at times have completely disengaged from politics for a while, because it’s become so poisonous and stupid.

(If you’re thinking “it’s not that bad”, there are blogs and other sites where I regularly see statements like “there is no such thing as a moderate Republican” or images like this:

….. posted with the apparent full approval of the readership.  It’s at least as easy to find similarly insane demonization of the left on some right-wing sites.  They call everyone on the left “Marxist” and “communist” the same way the far-left crazies call everyone on the right “fascist” and “racist”.  Yes, it is that bad.)

I definitely consider myself a member of the “exhausted majority”, and I don’t really regard myself as a centrist.  Politics isn’t a simple left-to-right spectrum, anyway.  For example, I believe I’m being logically coherent by being strongly pro-choice on both abortion rights and gun rights, whereas the left and right are incoherent in their inconsistent views on those issues.  I view the current Democratic party as far too weak on labor-rights issues — I’d align much more with Bernie Sanders than with Biden in that area.  Most of my other views stem more from my anti-religion stance and respect for science than from anything political.  But what I share with other “exhausted majority” people of all viewpoints is the desire for the end of the scorched-earth, dead-end polarization and demonization that dominates politics.  Part of what I look for in politicians, activist groups, and bloggers is a willingness to at least read viewpoints different from their own, to give credit where due when someone on the “other side” shows moderation, to recognize where common interests can exist, to refrain from tarring everyone on the “other side” with the brush of that side’s worst extremists.

The real radical crazies are irredeemable, but they’re a minority, even if they’re making most of the noise.  Ultimately the sane people on both “sides” have to find a way to take the country back from them, instead of allowing ourselves to be herded into the existing opposing camps that view each other with hatred and incomprehension.