The Anti-Pendulum Effect

Pendulums tend to find middle ground. In fact, gravity ensures it. They swing in one direction and then the other, slowing down little by little, eventually coming to rest in the middle. You’d think a two-sided political system would eventually find a common ground too, mostly satisfying the majority of people who lie somewhere in the middle.

In the American political struggle, it seems we somehow manage to defy gravity. I call it The Anti-Pendulum Effect. With each swing, we go further and further to each side’s extreme. It is expected that power will swing from one side to the other, democrat to republican, and back again. That was fine until it started swinging from extreme democrat to extreme republican and failed to represent the reasonable views of the majority of Americans.

Think about it. One side takes power, goes to the extreme, and angers the other half of the country. They even anger the reasonable people who voted for them enough to lean the other way next time. So then the other side takes power. And what do they do? The exact same thing of course. As this cycle repeats we get more and more extreme, with those in power deciding to go nuclear over every little thing while they have the chance, inexplicably not seeming to understand they are just setting the precedent for the other side to inevitably do the same.

In 2013, the democratic senate invoked “the nuclear option” changing the very rules of the senate to increase their power in order to win the battle of that particular day, only to lose control of the senate shortly thereafter. In 2016, the republican senate wouldn’t even consider a reasonable supreme court nominee from the other side. Some even suggested they would not consider any nominee, if the other side won the presidency, for their entire 4 year term. It is as if our government can no longer function in a reasonable way. The Anti-Pendulum Effect is breaking the very fabric of our democracy.

The consequence of The Anti-pendulum Effect is an endless cycle of unhappiness and anger for half the country at any given time. Actually, I’d argue most of the country is frequently unhappy since we spend two out of every four years in a cut-throat political battle in which we’re constantly fighting and bringing out the worst in each other. The reality is most of us are in the middle, or close enough to it, that we could be happy with a compromise, especially if it meant a return to a kinder, gentler time when we could engage each other with mutual respect and basic human decency.

Do you want to spend your life sad and dejected, left out, even miserable, fifty percent of the time? Do you want to spend two out of every four years dreading the potential impact of the upcoming election? Do you want to feel like you’re constantly pitted against some supposed enemy who lives next door? I don’t. We can do better America.