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Civil Discourse and the Clash of Ideas


By Lee Hamilton

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Lee Hamilton

The election of 2012 has called attention to how difficult it is for Americans to talk reasonably with one another about public policy challenges. Our civic dialogue — how we sort through issues and reason with one another — is too often lamentable.

We live in a politically divided country. Congress, which ought to serve as the forum where politicians of diverse views find common ground, is instead riven by ideological disagreements. There’s no real discourse, just the two parties hammering at each other in a mean-spirited, strident tone. Small wonder the public holds Congress in such low esteem.

It seems impossible to change, but it’s not. Ordinary citizens—you and I—have it in our power to put our political dialogue back on track.

The first step is to understand that in a politically and socially diverse country, with two houses of Congress and a president required to pass legislation, compromise isn’t a luxury. It is almost always a necessity. Too few politicians seem to grasp this.

So if we want things to improve, if we don’t like intense partisanship and political game-playing, then we must choose officials with an instinct for collaboration. And we, as their constituents, have to give them room to craft legislation with broad appeal.

The budget, taxes, entitlements, education, immigration — on all these issues there is room for each side to accommodate the other. But to make progress on these matters, it will take political leadership of the highest order: leaders who are fair, open-minded, and committed above all else to bringing people together through discussion, debate and compromise.

Let me be clear: We should expect disagreement in our politics. Vigorous debate has been a constant in American history, and let’s hope it always will be. Controversy and argument are natural parts of a working democracy. Our Founders understood this, as a way for multiple views to be aired and possible solutions weighed. Competition for power lies at the heart of our system, and an intense struggle for votes that is marked by the clash of ideas should be encouraged, not feared.

But healthy debate requires other ingredients, too: Respect for one’s adversary. Tolerance of different beliefs and perspectives. Graciousness. A fundamental respect for facts. The humility to recognize that we might be wrong and the integrity .....
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Just Vote

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Eric Leitzen Well, that title should prove frightening enough to fill the qualifications for Halloween. By now you’re probably expecting me to launch into some sort of rant and rave about this candidate or that policy or who’s a socialist o ..... 
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Correction

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

In the article “Caboose has rolled into Preston” in the October 29, 2012, issue of the Fillmore County Journal, it should be clarified that the project was not funded by ISTEA.

One Moment, Please... Taxes are boring, but real

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

I hear it all the time. People complain about taxes, but yet never really know where there money is going. People don’t like talking about taxes. It’s right up their with politics and religion, and sometimes even involves those two dynamics. ..... 
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Thoughts about tomorrow’s election

By Yvonne Nyenhuis

Fri, Nov 2nd, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

The election has been upstaged by “Sandy.” The devastation reminds us that there is a power greater than ours, and that we have limited control of our destiny. For those who have lost their homes to wind, fire and flood, voting must seem inco ..... 
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Local residents weigh in on the proposed marriage amendment

Fri, Oct 26th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

Mary Thomas of Preston Personally, I don’t think we should be voting on this issue, there are way too many other issues that are more important. Like focusing on who do we really want to run this country and who do we really want to represent our ..... 
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One Moment, Please... Politics aside

Fri, Oct 26th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

Certainly, most of us would like to fast forward to November 7 right now, so we could bypass the election and begin the next chapter in our lives, whatever that will be. But really, for me, it’s all relative. Elections come and go. Figureheads ..... 
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Concerned Citizens for St. Charles

Fri, Oct 26th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Travis Lange, Concerned Citizens for St. Charles On behalf of the Concerned Citizens for St. Charles, I would like to thank everyone that has volunteered their time and talents to help spread the wealth of knowledge that has made a significant ..... 
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A centrist, in search of balance and a good stew

Fri, Oct 19th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

By Karen Reisner When I look at so-called party platforms, it is clear that there is no clear choice. However, voting is more complicated than simply the party line. Many of us when choosing who to vote for have to look beyond political party. Bes ..... 
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