Opinion

Editorial: Our political and cultural divide

For Ocracoke news, click here.

This is a golden time for editorial and political news reporters, but covering political issues can be disheartening.

For many, their minds are made up and anything that contradicts a viewpoint can be brushed off as fake news. In the evolving means of accessing information online, it is perhaps human nature that one would read news sites that support one’s viewpoints.

One current governor observed that this country hasn’t been so divided since the Civil War.

We agree.

This time, it’s not regional but household-to-household, and it is getting worse.

There are many reasons for our dystrophic culture. But a major reason stems from politics pervading all aspects of our culture: sports, religion, health care and even children’s television. It’s not that this is new; it is the increased mean-spirited and hateful tone toward others who have different views that is tearing us apart. The Golden Rule–treating others as one would wish to be treated—is largely absent.

If asked to describe a courageous leader, how many would name an elected official?

Nationwide, many, if not most, politicians take positions that ensure their re-elections in the many highly gerrymandered districts they represent.

It is rare that a pol these days will buck the tide and take a position contrary to their supporters or political party.

Many members of Congress are refusing to hold town meetings for fear of confronting angry constituents who are legitimately concerned about health care and jobs.

If a 2017 version  of “Profiles in Courage” by John F. Kennedy (1957) came out about our current political leaders, it would have fewer pages than “Love Story” (1970).

Angry voters are proposing that politicians ignore partisan positions and objectively – and courageously—think for themselves and act accordingly even if it means going against their political party.

“Country before party” and “doing the right thing” has largely been discarded if it means politicians will lose their seats.

Few voters have expectations that the U.S. Congress and this year’s N.C. General Assembly will undergo a transformation that will restore at least the semblance of bipartisanship.

In a rare bipartisan moment last year, two N.C. politicians, John Torbett (R-Gaston) and Paul Tine (U-Kitty Hawk) worked across the aisle to resolve a multi-year gridlock to obtain funding for the N.C. Ferry Division.

Helping with this major accomplish was the Hyde County government, who invited members of the House Select Committee on Strategic Transportation Planning and Long Term Funding Solutions to hold a meeting in Engelhard and then take a field trip to the Swan Quarter ferry terminal to meet with a large group of Ocracoke islanders.

The politeness and humor during this gathering made a major impact on the representatives from the interior of the state unfamiliar about the importance of this vital transportation service, and they got to see an actual ferry.

Where does our political system work best? It seems to us at the grass-roots level. They higher you go, the more divisive it gets.

An example of working together as a group is the Hyde County Board of Commissioners. They meet monthly in open meetings that allow for public comments.  The agenda is published in advance and residents have two opportunities to present their views.

One would be hard-pressed to guess if a commissioner is a Republican or Democrat in these meetings, though they are affiliated in that manner on the ballot.  Issues such as flood control, improving education and health in a very poor county, supporting a viable economy and restoring the highly damaged Lake Mattamuskeet are discussed in nonpartisan terms and not as conservative or liberal issues.

We state this because we have been observing these monthly meetings and have had gotten to know some of the board.

We encourage you to attend the meetings held at 6 p.m. the first Monday of each month in the Ocracoke Community Center. And we hope you would comment on issues that concern you. After all, this is the only government in Hyde County.

Among ourselves—at the grassroots—we need to get back to civil discourse and calmly entertain each other’s ideas or our country may be in the same kind of peril when a European country tumbled the world into World War II.

Anne O’Hare McCormick, legendary New York Times war correspondent, summed it up brilliantly in 1935 observing Italy who was saber rattling with England:

“Neither side can see the other’s point. It is difficult because the outlooks inside and outside Italy are as different as views through a window pane and a mirror.”

Categories: Opinion

3 replies »

  1. I found your use of the adjective “dystrophic” to describe our culture interesting, but also confusing. Admittedly, I cannot recall ever encountering this adjective used outside of a medical context before. There are secondary meanings or applications for this term in ecology documented in the dictionaries, e.g., describing the conditions in a lake. What confuses me when I am trying to understand the significance of your usage of the word to describe our culture is how to explain your intent with an appropriate synonym. What comes to mind are words like “unhealthy,” and especially “dysfunctional.” Am I on the right track? Or, were other or additional connotations intended?
    FYI: I have added your usage in the comments on Merriam-Webster at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystrophic [accessed 10 MAR 2017].

  2. Well and timely expressed. It is clear to me (of course) whence this divisiveness arises- fundamentally, placing ideology above country. And it’s deadly.
    But that’s only my opinion.

  3. I largely think the problem is the left view the right as bullies and lacking any empathy. As they come across as violent, rude and arrogant when in reality they have genuine fears. For example most right wings will call a lefty a “snowflake” when the right want to horde all the guns they can, build a wall to stop all the rapists and criminals coming in and ban all Muslims from entering the country. If anyone is a “snowflake” it’s the right wings, they are scared… and they have the right to be.

    On the contrary left wings see this and rather than work towards ways to ease their fears and bulling ways they feel enough is enough and strike out in an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth scenario…

    Unfortunately you can’t fight fire with fire. The Beatles said it best.