Moving to the Center

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) wave to the crowd during a campaign rally at Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

This could be the year America’s yawning political divide begins to close. Thanks to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, voters have seen the far left and the far right, and – to many of them – both look too scary for comfort.

The shift toward the political middle is evident all over the country. In Kansas, for instance, moderates have defeated conservative extremists in this week’s Republican primaries. And a lot of responsible Republicans are denouncing Trump’s radical rants.

Hillary Clinton’s choice of Tim Kaine (above) as her running mate is also evidence of the prevailing centrist trend.

Yes, I know, the Democrats have adopted the most progressive platform in living memory. But if you look at the platform, there isn’t much there that a sensible conservative couldn’t live with.

There are no Marxist proclamations, no slogans calling for class warfare. Just proposals for addressing the critical problems facing America today.

And if you check out Hillary’s web site, you will see no extravagant tax-and-spend proposals. Instead, she identifies America’s most pressing problems and explains what she would do to fix them.

What’s especially interesting is that her fixes do not involve more deficit spending. In every case, she shows how she will pay for her reforms.

Yes, there would be new taxes, but only on those who can really afford to pay.

America’s super-rich and the global corporations have been getting away with murder, and I can’t think of anyone who would want to give them more tax breaks – except, of course, Donald Trump.

It’s time to streamline and rationalize the tangled tax code. Everybody agrees on that. It’s scandalous that the richest companies in America pay little or no federal taxes, while middle class wage earners, professionals and business owners pay through the nose.

Elimination of costly red tape, which is especially onerous to small businesses, would help to compensate entrepreneurs for any increased tax burden.

Nobody likes taxes, but everybody agrees they are necessary. (Except a few crazies, who have managed to intimidate members of Congress to the detriment of the country’s economy.)

The obvious need is to invest those taxes in ways that produce revenue. By rebuilding the infrastructure, for example.

President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system is an example of sensible government spending that produces benefits for generations. And you know Ike was a Republican.

There’s a lot of room for sensible government in America’s political center. Of course, we must always keep in mind that the Founding Fathers conceived of this nation as a work in progress, and envisaged a continuous effort toward “a more perfect union.”

For that, we need progressive policies as well as good government. But it looks as if this is a time for caution in our quest, not radical experimentation.

More on the political center