The current political atmosphere of congressional gridlock and polarization leaves little room for the ideological center and its ideas. However, intense partisanship and the dysfunction it has caused may actually provide centrists with an opportunity to make their voices heard. With congressional approval ratings and productivity near historic lows, pragmatists have the opportunity to appeal to the American electorate by providing policy solutions that could satisfy Americans’ desire for a functional legislature.

Even though hyper-partisanship makes it appear that there is nothing in common between the left and right, there is in fact common ground between both sides. For example, both President Barack Obama and former Republican U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich have said that the U.S. corporate tax rate, the highest in the developed world, should be lowered. Even though Gingrich and Obama are an unlikely team, their agreement reveals there is still some consensus on how to reform the tax code, a subject that is normally left untouched due to gridlock. More recently, U.S. Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued similar statements regarding the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, further demonstrating that there are commonalities between politicians who usually don’t agree. There is room for compromise, but there is currently no voice to advocate for it. Centrists can fill this void by proposing policies that are widely supported, but would normally not pass due to partisanship.

Although pragmatism and compromise may sound appealing, Democrats and Republicans must first change the way they negotiate and interact with one another. Primarily, the lack of bipartisan friendships in Congress today is not conducive for negotiation, and former congressmen have actually lamented the decline in bipartisan friendships and expressed how they are crucial for compromise. Nevertheless, centrists are in an advantageous position to encourage bipartisan friendships. This will allow one side to better understand the perspective of the other and will create an environment for more productive negotiation. Whether it is leading the charge to pass a tax compromise, or encouraging bipartisan friendships, centrists have the opportunity to increase pragmatism and effective policymaking in Congress. Through these efforts, pragmatists can fulfill the lack of strong leadership in Congress and can work to rebuild the American public’s trust in government.

Daniel Karr is an LSA sophomore.

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