I love politics and I hate politics. Our political process gives us an opportunity to elect leaders who will lead, legislate, and serve our communities. This provides great power to those put in these positions, and as the Spiderman comics taught us, with great power comes great responsibility.
One power we seem to have abandoned is the power to have a civil discourse with those who believe differently than we do. Too often we are bombarded with toxic messages, sound bites whose only purpose is to instigate, and social media postings that belittle those who may disagree. This part of the political season saddens me. We can do better. We are better than this.
Growing up, debate with my siblings and parents was a common thing. My mom used to laugh at my sister and me, we could argue for days if the sky was blue. But there were rules, we couldn’t be mean, and we had to still like each other at the end (not always easy to follow). This passion for discussion has continued in my family. With 4 out of 5 kids in law, discussions are never boring! And we never fully agree with each other. I remember one time my brother had his new wife up for a family dinner. We got into a discussion on some current event and we spent an hour going back and forth. My sister-in-law got up and left the room in tears, afraid we were having a huge fight. Nothing could have been further from the truth!
I disagree with others constantly, and even though I know I’m always right, it’s not, and should not, be about winning or losing, but having a respectful exchange of ideas. I don’t know that I have really changed my family’s minds after any of our discussions, and I don’t know if my mind has changed to their point of view either, but I can promise you, that when you listen you learn, and you can see from others’ points of view.
When November 3rd comes and goes, we will have plenty of changes. We will have a new governor, we will have new representatives, and they will make their mark on our lives. But we should also still have our crazy Aunt Marthas, our uncouth cousin Eddies, and our friends and coworkers whose politics put them on the other side of the aisle.
I was proud of our gubernatorial candidates who recently put out a commercial reminding Utahns that we are an example to the rest of the country. We can have our differences and still be respectful and productive citizens. This is our clarion call.
While I do not know what most of your political beliefs are, and I’m sure many know mine and disagree, I am reminded of what Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend”, and you are all my friends!
Zachary Christensen, J.D., CPPB
President – NIGP Utah Chapter