Whether you are progressive or conservative, it’s hard to ignore the anger that has infected this election season. And there is particularly poisonous venom being released on the Washington “establishment.”

But as the anger in the political arena crescendos to a deafening volume, it’s still not clear what’s really at the source. Some claim it’s a lack of transparency. Others say it’s a lack of control. Do Americans feel like the cards are stacked against them? Who is to blame? Is government not doing enough? Or is government doing too much?

Many can surely sympathize with the fear – and anger – that comes from a sense of chaos and helplessness. Americans’ frustration with a government system that never seems to get any better, and fails at its most core duties is justifiable. It’s not surprising, for instance, that the Pew Research Center recently found that Americans’ overall view of government is tremendously negative – with only 19 percent of Americans claiming to trust the government some or most of the time.  And this is certainly a sentiment that can lead one to want to lash out.

Yet some of what is supposedly driving this anger appears misplaced.  Yesterday on a prominent national radio show, a member of that Republican “establishment” made the claim that most of the “Republican campaigns spend all their time dropping negative ads on their opponents, as opposed to addressing this group of [frustrated and angry] people and saying here’s what I’m going to do for you, here’s my compelling idea because what they’re looking for at this point is someone who’s going to rock the boat.”

I’m no defender of government – nor of the Republican Party, which has made its fair share of mistakes in recent years – but it’s simply not the case that there are no “compelling ideas” being offered from conservative ranks.

In between much of the noise that Americans rightfully resent, there are many dedicated people who have devoted their careers to considering, researching, and communicating better prescriptions for health care policy, entitlement reform, and education.  There are organizations filled with sincere hard-working people who are regularly offering innovative ideas about the energy, the environment, and housing. And they are doing their best to cut through the static to get the media and public’s attention for a real discussion about the issues. 

I know this is true, because I lead one organization just like this: the Independent Women’s Forum.  Right now – as protestors on both sides of the political aisle complain about Washington’s ineffectiveness and the lack of ideas – the IWF is poised to release our Working for Women report, which presents concrete solutions and an agenda of policy reform for improving working women’s lives.

Working for Women outlines conservative solutions to help address issues like pay equity and paid leave. We explain why micromanaging wages will hurt the very women who need help the most, and we offer better ways for women to move up the economic ladder. We present solutions to childcare challenges and explore ways that the marketplace – rather than government – will ensure women have the choices they need.

This is just one of our projects, and IWF is just one small organization. Consider the many outfits and individuals working in Washington, and elsewhere around the country, to advance solutions – not just rhetoric – about how to truly make America great again.

It’s easy to shrug everyone off as part of the “establishment”; but voters would be wise to acknowledge that there are many people – on both sides of the political aisle, whether you agree with them or not – who are considering future challenges and the different policy paths our country can take moving forward. If the media and the public would tune in and take those conversations seriously – rather than engaging in boxing matches at political rallies – we truly might be able to create a healthier political environment, as well as a stronger country, for us all. 


Sabrina L. Schaeffer is executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum.