Our View: The ideals that unite us
Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States last Wednesday, and regardless of your politics, presidential inaugurations are historic, symbolic events, usually attended by large crowds in non-pandemic times, that signal change and new direction, especially when a new administration assumes the White House.
So in light of this change in leadership at a time when our country seems hopelessly fractured, we believe there are certain concepts, ideals and actions that can serve to unite us — ideas that we think transcend political divides and would help heal our nation.
Fight misinformation: The sharing of false information, which is the real “fake news,” is threatening our democracy, and we must all do our part to wage a war against this culture of misinformation.
It’s easy to blame Facebook or Twitter, but we also must look at traditional media, which can be polarizing at times and less than objective. This perceived bias has pushed people away from trusted news sources and allowed the rise of websites and publications that advance false narratives under the guise of “real” journalism. These “alternative facts” often morph into conspiracy theories that circulate on the internet and social media and, as we’ve seen, result in division and, sometimes, violence.
It’s imperative we each do our own homework and check the sources behind the “news” we are consuming. Too often, people post videos or links to news articles without considering the validity of the information. This rise of misinformation has had devastating effects on trust in our elections and our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it must be stopped.
Many people begin afresh in the new year and choose to give up drinking during “Dry January.” Maybe we all should consider a “Facebook-free February?”
At issue: The inauguration of a new president gives us the opportunity to reflect on issues that unite us as a nation.
Our View: President Joe Biden gave a strong call for unity, so what can a divided nation agree on?
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Kevin Fisher, community representative
• George Danellis, community representative
Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.
A return to civil discourse: Name calling and bullying have become central characteristics of our online culture, and it’s time for a return to civility. Steamboat Pilot & Today’s comments section is not immune to this, and despite a change in platforms, incivility remains rampant on the newspaper’s website. The Pilot is in the process of trying to solve this issue, so stay tuned.
Recognize and acknowledge that your friends and fellow community members are more than their political leanings. The fact that someone voted for Trump doesn’t mean they believe in QAnon, and not all Biden supporters are socialists controlled by China. Let’s reject the rhetoric and replace it with respect for differences in opinions.
A call for compromise: It’s essential the Biden administration doesn’t allow the pendulum to swing too far to the left following Trump’s four years in the White House. Acknowledging that the election was not a landslide of any sort with 51.3% of the electorate voting for Biden, 46.8% for Trump and 1.8% for third party candidates, a moderate approach to governance would be the best path forward.
And with these statistics in mind, we’d like to see the rise of more moderate legislators in Washington. A huge divide exists between the far left and the far right, and it’s a difference that seems too far to bridge. Instead, elected officials must deliver on their campaign rhetoric and truly reach across the aisle to listen and learn from one another. Extremists seem to have co-opted both parties, and an elevation of leaders who can foster thoughtful, moderate and meaningful change would be welcome. And if this can’t happen, is a strong third party in America’s future?
Restoring faith in our election process: It’s essential that Americans understand the election process and trust the results. Tens of millions of Americans believed the presidential election was rigged, and though the facts prove otherwise, they can’t all be dismissed as crackpots. Somehow, there needs to be cross-party effort made by our politicians to restore faith in our sacrosanct democratic process.
Get involved at the grassroots level: We’re not living in Washington, D.C., so if you want to spark change outside of voting, get involved locally. Serve on a government advisory board, run for City Council or, most importantly, get out there and help people through community service and the giving of your time and talents. Nothing unifies people more than working together toward a common goal for the benefit of our community.
Hope for the future: If there was a star of the inauguration, it was Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old Black poet, who recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” Her age stood in stark contrast to Biden, who at 78 is the oldest president ever to take office.
Her presence symbolized the next generation of leaders, and her words were powerful and inspiring, describing the dichotomies that exist in America — the darkness and the light — with an emphasis on hope overcoming fear. She said she finished her poem on the night of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and she somehow found reason to believe in a better future for all Americans. Here is just an excerpt from Gorman’s poem that we thought particularly profound.
“And yes we are far from polished.
Far from pristine.
But that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.”
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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John Spezia’s recent letter fawning over H.R. 40 includes contact information for our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. I’d like to thank him for that; I’ll be using it to urge a no vote on…