Bridge the par­ti­san di­vide

Daily Camera (Boulder) - - Daily Camera - By Betty Ball and Matt Ni­code­mus

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 bty­

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