Bridge the partisan divide
There is and has long been in our nation a chasm of distance between Americans who identify themselves as conservative/ traditionalist/right-wing/ Republican and other Americans who identify themselves as liberal/progressive/left-wing/democratic. Individuals and groups on each side of that political divide often have little understanding of those on the other, including scant awareness of the many things they have in common with them, which makes it easier to misjudge and develop antipathy toward each other.
As elections approach, with high stakes choices to be made which will affect different portions of society in potentially very different ways, the distinctions between these rival camps are drawn even more strongly and further apart, intensifying existing misunderstandings, disagreements, fears of negative changes that could come with losses on voting day, and anger at injustices that could be suffered at the hands of the opposition if it wins.
As the elections draw near, there is enormous, often chaotic and dangerous disagreement throughout our country, driven by candidates’ statements, political party battling, news and commentary already used to stoking consumer conflicts, the enormous Black Lives Matter movement and powerfully shifting mass consciousness about race and justice in the nation, social media’s amplification and perpetuation of internecine strife, the horrific COVID-19 pandemic, and associated deep economic downturn.
With the White House and Republican Party doing all they can to tilt the electoral table in their favor and hold onto the presidency and U.S. Senate and Donald Trump making clear he won’t leave office quietly, or perhaps at all, if things don’t go his way on Nov. 3, and with leaders of both major parties naming their opposition mortal enemies of American democracy, justice, and the rule of law, the stage is set for massive, strenuous struggle across America.
Many commentators claim such battling could become our next civil war, or at least lead to deadly violence throughout the land, and a continuing stream of statements by gun owners tells us how far many may go to defend their point of view.
We citizens of Boulder County have the opportunity and, between us, the skills, the experience, the vision, and, we would say, the responsibility to acknowledge this already intensely hot, smoking tinderbox of a situation and offer what we can to help area people on both sides of the political divide better understand, respect, tolerate, and make and keep increasing peace with each other.
Working in cooperation with numerous local individuals and organizations, with access to so many sources of knowledge, wisdom, inspiration, and resources, our community is well placed, and acknowledged by many as well qualified, to co-organize and help carry out the management of one or more main events and perhaps additional activities to help prepare our community for what is likely to come before, during, and following the Nov. 3 balloting. And if we do a good job of preparing, we may be able to serve as a useful model for other communities.
Betty Ball recently retired from coordinating the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center. Matt Nicodemus is the founder and co-coordinator of the nonpartisan Sworn to Refuse project. To offer your suggestions and assistance for the effort described here, e-mail Betty at email@example.com.