Reader exchange offers new hope

January 8, 2022

Last Friday’s paper was barely off the presses when into my inbox came: “You did a great job of bashing the Democrats today, how about doing the same for the Republicans? Both parties have plenty to atone for. I am really weary of partisan reporters and editorialists who have single vision.”

I’ll be honest, my first reaction was here we go, another angry lefty, but the “weary” part made me realize I owed this reader more than a simple “thanks for reading”.

In the email exchanges that followed came a back and forth that brought renewed hope for a new year.

I wrote that had the Republicans done what Biden had done last year, I’d be bashing them as well. That “I certainly don’t want one party rule from either of them. I actually want BACK the Democrat party. When Joe Manchin and a handful of others is the only thing standing between today’s left wing and the federalist system that has kept us free from almost 250 years I’ll be as partisan as I can be to shine truth on the damage being done.”

I found myself in total agreement with the response:

“The only reason the Democrats are in full power now is because the Republicans did such a poor job and everyone was sick and tired of “Trump”.

You ask for the return of moderate Democrats…I would like that along with the return of the Republican party I grew up supporting. When our Congressional members believe conspiracy theories and support a very poor president for fear of being shunned, I can no longer support them. When the Republicans get their act together, I will gladly give them my vote.

I am not happy with the Democratic party either, but I have sense enough to know that both parties need some serious revamping. I don’t follow all the dogma of either party, I think for myself. How about you?”

I wrote back about growing up on a Kansas farm, one set of grandparents Democrat, the other set Republican …most ways not a lot of difference … and none of it focused on identity politics and both supporters of a very strong national defense and credible foreign policy.

That “Biden ran on being a moderate, yet has governed as a Sanders socialist. I’d have liked nothing better than to be able to have written the column praising him for standing up to his left wing and restoring balance and civility to our political system. Yet he went the opposite.”

And I called attention to Kevin Drum’s work that shows contrary to the press narrative about Republican right wingers, it’s actually the Democrat party that has moved much further to the left than Republicans have to the right.

To which I was promptly scolded:

“You seem to have missed the point of my original letter. BOTH PARTIES NEED TO CHANGE! You can’t, in good conscience, blame all the problems in this country on the Democrats. I don’t like many of the policies that Biden is trying to put in place, he has gone way too far left for my tastes. HOWEVER, if the Republicans can’t find a better candidate than Donald Trump, I will be forced to vote Democratic…I would just like to see some common sense and fairness in government, not parties that pander to their campaign donors. How about we demand that our government do what is best for the majority of the American people? Until both parties change, it will never happen.”

While it skipped over Drum’s research of Democrats hard turn to the left adding to our great divide, there’s nothing in that paragraph I disagree with.

And with that, one reader gave me more hope for this Republic than I’ve had in months. Not because there was blanket agreement, but because there was principled, civil engagement

Differing opinions yes, but in that engagement, a lot more agreement than disagreement. We may have different approaches and we both have our emotions, but we each sincerely love this nation.

Two Americans that on the surface seemed oceans apart, but below that surface steering a common course.

We both want a safe, secure America for future generations, we both don’t like the swing to the hard left but neither do we want Trump and the antics back.

That’s a win in my book, no matter what party we currently identify with.

But unless our press corps finds a way to return to the center as well, that win will be short-lived.

A nation simply cannot have the majority of its mass media rooting for only one side and not expect divisions to deepen. And Lincoln’s “house divided” going from merely a warning to a very harsh reality.

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