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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Saturday, July 23rd, 2016
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What it takes to be an effective citizen


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Jun 13th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

By Lee H. Hamilton

It’s so easy in a presidential election year to forget that our system is not about a single person. This year especially, when the dynamics of the presidential contest have dominated news coverage so thoroughly that even the Senate and House races have largely disappeared from view, the crucial role that citizens play — apart from serving as voters in the presidential drama — isn’t even an afterthought.

Yet effective citizenship is the base on which our representative democracy rests. Our vitality as a country depends on the involvement of millions of people in their neighborhoods and communities, in interest groups and civic organizations, in groups agitating for change and groups defending the status quo.

So just what constitutes effective citizenship? I believe it’s made up of several elements.

First, a confident belief that change is possible — that the country can indeed make progress over time thanks to the efforts both of ordinary people and of political leaders. In his recent speech at Howard University, President Obama noted that by almost every measure, the country has moved forward over the last three decades. The poverty rate is down, as are the rates for crime and for teenage pregnancy. More Americans are getting college degrees, more women are working and earning more money, many cities are far healthier than they were in the 1980s.

Yes, we’ve got miles to go on many fronts, but on the whole, I’ll take where we stand today over where we stood in the 1980s. Our system is working better for more people than it did then.

The people who helped make this happen understood two things: that progress was possible, and that it required their efforts. This might seem too obvious even to say, but those who were most effective had an impact because they had the skills to make a difference.

I’m talking here about the fundamental ability we should all have as citizens to solve problems in a representative democracy that’s filled with people who have different beliefs, perspectives, and experiences. This means knowing how to work together with all kinds of people, being able to find common ground, being forthright about aims and methods, forging connections to key officials and other players who can help advance a cause, building consensus, and communicating ideas effectively.

I use the word “skills”, bu .....
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Houston elementary students in good hands

Mon, Jun 6th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

By Carol Bromeland If you were in the city of Houston the week of May 23-27, you saw lines of elementary students on the move all day long throughout town. Renovation of the elementary building needed to start May 23, so staff had to have all their ..... 
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Critical animal losses: Preventable tragedies and parent-shaming

By Sara Snipes

Mon, Jun 6th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

By now, most of us have heard of the Cincinnati Zoo incident involving a minor child of about four years of age resulting in the tragic loss of an endangered animal. If not, I’ll sum it up for you: Mother takes child to zoo, child defies mother by ..... 
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Reflections of Memorial Day

By Dr. Bryan Van Gorp

Mon, Jun 6th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

I want to start by saying that I respect and honor those who have served in the military whether by draft or volunteering. I also know that what I am about to say will anger many people and they will attempt to twist it into something unpatriotic. I ..... 
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The case for limited government

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Jun 6th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

It has been 35 years since Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural speech as President — the one in which he said, “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” Over that time, hostility toward g ..... 
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Grow a Farmer Fund: Investing in food, farmers and accessible financing

Mon, May 30th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

“Our survival relies on the ability to reintegrate investing and philanthropy,” said Woody Tasch at the second annual Slow Money Minnesota gathering earlier this month. Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) co-sponsored this meeting, o ..... 
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Our democracy at risk

By Herb Panko

Mon, May 30th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

Like most readers of this newspaper, I consider myself a loyal, patriotic American. I celebrate the cornerstones of a successful democracy---the basic freedoms which all Americans enjoy---such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of a ..... 
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Part two: The future

Mon, May 30th, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

Two days a week, I get to put my $120,000 education to use as a substitute teacher. I’ve been subbing on and off for six years now, and one refrain I keep hearing from teachers I’ve worked with over a 300 mile radius is this: the kids just don ..... 
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Those who know Congress best are shaking their heads

By Lee Hamilton

Mon, May 23rd, 2016
Posted in All Commentary

I had the good fortune last week to spend some time in Washington, D.C. with about a dozen former members of Congress. As you’d expect, we got to talking about the current Congress. Very quickly it turned out that the same question was troubling a ..... 
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