A View From Here


Frank Slater

America Divided

Some time ago, I submitted a column for this newspaper that contained the word “snowflake” in its political context. The column was accepted, but without that word. 

I objected and had a conversation with the editorial staff about the use and impact of certain terms that have the effect of stopping communication rather than enhancing it. 

It is amazing how new, salient information in regards to the issue under consideration can give you a broader perspective and often lead to a change of mind.

Winston Churchill explained it this way: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”

An article in the Nov. 3 edition of The Economist opens with, “As America prepares to go to the polls Nov. 6, the country is more divided and angry than it has been in decades.” 

The voting is done. As of this writing, it appears that the Republicans have held the Senate and the Democrats have won the House. 

We seem to be right where we were before the election—in for two more years of partisan politics and ballooning Federal deficits.

The Economist is published in London, and reading an outsider’s point of view helps me bridge the gap between the liberal and conservative media in our own country. If you get most of your information about this country from domestic mass media, it is reasonable to conclude that we are a nation divided. 

I think that is not the case. I believe that as a people we have tolerated a situation thinking that they, our elected representatives, will come up with a satisfactory solution we can all agree to.

That is backward. 

Our representatives seem likely to go on as they have unless we—the electorate—set a higher standard of discourse, behavior and ingenuity. That means familiarizing ourselves with issues rather than agendas, and that begins here at home. 

For example, school overcrowding and disrepair at the local level; the addiction crisis at the county level; increased traffic on the Purdy Bridge and State Route 302 and adapting to the new pressures of a growing population at the state level.

If we expect improvement, we must inform our elected representatives of our concerns and our ideas on how to address them. The local media can play a major role in helping local communities identify issues that need attention and develop a consensus on how best to solve them. Sowing division and attacking enemies—or creating them for that purpose—do not get us closer to solutions and only encourage our legislators to bicker defensively instead of legislating.

We can show them a better way by setting a better example, even if that means doing things differently, like changing one’s mind.

Churchill also once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Frank Slater, retired math teacher and Korean War veteran, lives in Vaughn.