Partners in progress, the US way
The message on moderation from former Sen. Olympia Snow in her Sept. 9 Common Ground, Common Good commentary, "Americans must mobilize for moderation," is like a bright light in America's currently stormy skies. There have, of course, been many calls for moderation and compromise in the past. There is one key element that often seems to be missing from these noble clarions. Balance in public affairs and human interactions is not just a compromise or bland melting pot but can be a dynamic force.
There are many examples in US history in which the blending of ideas and seemingly contrary perspectives has led to outstanding accomplishment. There is a kind of "resonance" created when people acknowledge and understand views that are different from their own. Take, for example, technological breakthroughs in the natural gas industry.
In the purest sense of free enterprise and individual initiative, George Mitchell, a tech-savvy wildcatter, pushed the long-known technique of hydrofracking into the modern era, made a fortune, and changed the whole American energy landscape. He did this, however, with steadfast support from the Department of Energy and its national laboratories. The spark of American entrepreneurship and free enterprise drawing on strong publicly supported R&D is a formula that has worked many times in our history.
American democracy itself was born in this spirit of give and take. Ben Franklin and others called it the "great experiment" – welding together diverse philosophies, cultures, religions, and viewpoints. That balance is itself our greatest strength.
This flexible yet creative spirit is what has propelled America to enormous world-altering achievements and is the fundamental strength that will carry it through the current challenges. There are also natural, deeply rooted principles that blend the individual and community, the singular genius with collective inspiration, the spark of free markets built on an educated, healthy society. In order to bring this "American genius" to its full flower we must now move beyond the era of ideology, and set aside the anachronisms of liberal and conservative stereotypes.
Dr. Allan Hauer