As a lifelong “moderate” Democrat, I have concerns regarding our country. We seem to be living in a nation of two armed camps, one on the right and one on the left. At least this is the impression that the media gives us. I, for one, believe that there is a silent majority that lies in the center. This group of Americans, I believe, supports change but not revolution.

As a moderate centrist, I am very concerned about the federal government’s penchant for running increasingly large budget deficits. Can we indefinitely issue vast amounts of government securities to finance these deficits? Are Democrats and Republicans ever going to be willing to sit down together to get a handle on the problem? Maybe the bigger question is: does anyone really care? Are large budget deficits of such little concern compared to getting reelected? To put the issue in perspective, at the end of Bill Clinton’s term in office, the national debt was around $5.7 trillion. Today it stands at over $26 trillion.

Having grown up in the Midwest, I saw subtle racism and prejudice. We didn’t have separate bathrooms or water fountains, but we did have segregated neighborhoods. I believe that the lot of Blacks has improved, but so much more needs to be done, including, if not particularly, in the law enforcement area. Can we not find a centrist path for improving the lives of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and other minorities? We need identifiable change but not revolution. I believe the silent center would support this, even if the extremes felt we are doing either too much or not enough.

Regarding Civil War monuments, I got to thinking about Robert E. Lee. Lee was a top graduate of West Point and served in the U.S. Army for over 30 years. From what I have read, he was torn between remaining in the U.S. Army and joining his fellow Virginians. You can argue over whether he made a bad decision or not. You can also argue over his character since he was a slave owner. However, Lee was a son of Virginia with family roots in Virginia going back many years. He was a respected Civil War general and a president of Washington and Lee University. Taking down or defacing monuments of Lee will not change history. While it will appease some, it will only further alienate others. In my opinion, judging people who lived a century and a half ago on the basis of today’s values is, to at least some extent, unfair. I believe that Civil War monuments should have some explanation regarding the era, war, and individuals involved. We need to come up with a moderate centrist solution, one that is a compromise that can meet at least some of the demands of all.

Regarding the leadership of our country, I believe most people want leaders who will unite, not further divide our nation. Whether Joe Biden can unite the nation is up for debate. He and his party need to have a platform that meets the needs and expectations of all Americans, not just those crying the loudest. His cabinet needs to be representative of the nation, not factions. At the same time, the Republicans need to take control of their party. Most I think would agree that we have had enough ranting and raving for a life time. The Republicans need to show some backbone and stand up for what is right and moral. Both parties in Washington need to work across the aisle. Compromise should not be an alien concept. Even though I am a Democrat, I did vote for Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, a couple of moderates. Hopefully, the moderate center will speak its mind in November.

Don Halstead is retired and lives with his wife in Shenandoah County. He worked as an economist for the federal government and taught economics at the Loudoun campus of Northern Virginia Community College.