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The center of it all

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By Optic Editorial Board

Let’s see if we can look at the 2012 campaign for the presidency from a common sense point of view, because just sticking with the facts isn’t as easy as one might think.

Today’s “facts,” you see, are relative. Once upon a time, reasonable people would examine facts, all the facts, then draw conclusions as to their meanings. That’s not the case any longer. Now, people come to their own conclusions then go out and find just enough facts to support their position. That’s true for the far left and the far right. That’s why there are people who believe Barack Obama is a socialist, even though he clearly isn’t, as well as people who believe Mitt Romney is an extremist capitalist, which he isn’t. The facts — all the facts — support a more moderate conclusion, that both of these candidates are closer to the political center than their enemies would have us believe.

Here’s another example: On the left, the Occupy movement extremists are insisting that big corporations are the problem, while on the right Tea Party proponents have declared big government the enemy. Neither side is all wrong, nor are they entirely right. Could it be that big corporations and big government are contributing to the problems our nation faces? Of course they are, but it’s hard to see that viewpoint coming out of either extreme.

Fortunately, neither the far right nor the far left will decide this election. Polls show that, nationally, the nation is split about 45 percent to 45 percent (more or less, depending on the poll and the moment in time it’s taken) for Obama and Romney, which leave about 10 percent of the nation’s voters to decide this election. And here’s an unavoidable reality for both sides: undecided voters aren’t on the far left or the far right, they tend to be moderates. So, centrists will invariably decide this election.

Or, to be more accurate, centrist states will decide the outcome.

Probably a state like Ohio, with a healthy balance of Democrats and Republicans offset by a relatively strong independent base. No matter how loud the extremists get, it’s the level-headed moderates who will have the last say.

We’re glad that’s the case. The nation is far too fractured these days to allow hysteria to rule the day. There are deep divisions, but fortunately they’re offset by people who can see both sides, who understand that there are reasonable approaches to longstanding issues, and that it takes both sides working together to arrive at solutions. Regardless of who wins in November, those are the people we want to see rule the day.