The Park Record editorial, July 4-6, 2012 |

The Park Record editorial, July 4-6, 2012

Time to declare independence from partisan politics

As Americans of all stripes and stars celebrate Independence Day, November’s election will still be a third of a year away. Unfortunately, many of us are already weary of the relentless negative campaigning that began more than a year ago, and four more months of bitter debate is not an appealing prospect.

So, in the spirit of renewing our commitment to the principles upon which our great nation is founded, we would like to suggest that our readers make a small pledge to help tone down the partisan bickering and focus instead on our common ground. To do that we suggest taking a walk on the other side of the great red-versus-blue divide.

For diehard Democrats, we suggest toning down the liberal rhetoric, at least long enough to hear what the Republican (yes, even the Tea Party) candidates are saying. Turn off MSNBC for a night and tune in to the Fox network. And don’t just snicker; really listen. You might find that some of the basic values they espouse aren’t so different from your own after all. And even if they are, you can’t counter their concerns unless you understand what they are.

Likewise, if the word Obamacare raises your blood pressure, chill out and pick up a copy of the New York Times and not to housetrain your pet. Read the opinion page. Try to envision the world from a different point of view. Breathe.

Imagine the divisive issues that faced our Founding Fathers. In their commitment to creating a new nation, they crafted ingenious compromises on everything from states’ rights to the popular vote. They divided the government into separate branches to prevent the consolidation of too much power and split Congress into two parts, ensuring that each state had an equal voice in the Senate while also giving a nod to the nation’s population centers in the House of Representatives.

They could have just screamed at each other and given up. They could have resorted to violence. But they didn’t. They treated each other with respect; they debated, decided, and put the best interests of the country ahead of their own.

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We need to follow that example.

So, over the next four months, try one or a few of these nonpartisan exercises:

  • Change the TV channel. Watch the news on a different station, preferably one with a different point of view
  • "Friend" an outspoken person whose views are different from your own and actively engage him/her in a conversation not a shouting match
  • Go to a public meeting and watch your local politicians in action. It will give you an appreciation for how hard they work to represent their constituents
  • Even if you have made up your mind, listen to the other candidates. If you have the opportunity, talk to them and tell them, respectfully about your own convictions

    This Fourth of July, let’s promise not to let our politics divide us. Nations around the world are making huge sacrifices to install their own democratic governments and they are looking to us as an example. We can’t let them down.