I used to see myself as a "fiscally conservative, but socially liberal" kind of guy, and for the most part, that still defines who I am. Lower taxes, less government, harsher penalties for criminals, a strong military: these define the conservative side of me. Equal rights for everyone, looking after the less fortunate, universal health care: these define the liberal side of me. At least, they did, but now I can't use either of those labels. In this day and age, it's very difficult to identify as both.

THE POLITICAL DIVIDE

Nowhere is this more evident than in the #United States. For the better part of two decades, the left and the right have been moving farther and farther apart.

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Conservatives, Republicans specifically, are seen as far-right, even being called the Alt-Right, and their Liberal, or Democrat, counterparts are moving to the far-left, and in some cases being classified as Antifa. Where there was once an understanding between these two parties, where work could be done for the mutual benefit of the country when needed, there is now a great political divide. With the election of Donald Trump, that divide is growing at an alarming rate.

It's difficult to pinpoint one particular cause of this split, but it seems that the right moved first. This was most noticeable when the Tea Party was gaining momentum in the Republican party. The swing to the right was fast as members of the GOP embraced this heavily conservative viewpoint. It was inevitable that the Democrats would start taking exception to this.

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As the GOP slipped further and further to the right, the voices in the Democratic party got louder and louder, particularly from the far left. Eventually, those were the only voices that could be heard. Moderates on both sides were drowned out. The average voters, the voters who considered themselves on the political centre, were orphaned.

The great white north

Canada, my home, was not exempt from this. Although not to the extent that has been seen in the United States, Canada's parties have drifted from the centre. Here, it seems, the governing Liberal party has moved much further than the Conservative party. To some who know me, this may sound like bias, but it truly isn't. While the Conservative party has surely moved to the right, and have adopted a few policies best left in the decades gone by, the Liberals have moved so far to the left, that they do not resemble the "natural governing party" that they claim to be. Again, this change has taken place over the last twenty years, although at a slower pace than our neighbours to the south.

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The end result, however, is the same. There are political orphans here, myself being one of them. Neither party has a platform that I can 100 percent buy into. I need something from both, and there was a time when you could get that. Those days are gone, and sadly, we in the centre are left to choose the lesser of two evils. That worked well for the United States, didn't it? Working together for the #Common Good isn't possible because the other party is seen as the "enemy".

Removing radicals

In the United States and Canada, both sides have radical elements that are nothing more than a cancer to their respective parties. They tug and pull and move these political parties farther and farther from the centre, and closer to their own ideals. These are ideals which do not suit the average citizen. The real goal that these parties should strive for is distancing themselves from these radical ideals, and removing these influences from their parties. There needs to be a shift by the Left and the Right back towards the Centre. Both elements of the political spectrum have value, and when a party comes closer to the centre, they have a greater chance of attracting more voters.

The Centre is where you find your moderates. It's where you find the average citizen. It's where you find hard working people who want the best of both worlds. There was a time when the voters could have that, and there were far fewer political orphans. There was a time when the fringe elements on both sides were kept at a distance. There was a time when those running for government put the people first. There was a time when they cared.

No one knows how long this struggle will continue, with the Left and the Right on a steady march away from each other. One thing is certain: until these two sides agree to come back to the middle, and honestly represent a majority of the citizens in their country, the governments will be controlled by radicals and special interest groups, and the orphans will continue to seek a home.