Lincoln was right, "A house divided against itself can not stand."

November 25, 2017

 

 

Lynn Matthews, Washington County DemocratsPublished 6:24 a.m. MT Nov. 24, 2017

 

So, one of my favorite game shows is Match Game (both the original and the new).

For the few of you unfamiliar with the show, the premise is that the host gives a short clue in which there are typically many plausible answers. A panel of celebrities must write out the best answer to the given clue. Then, the contestant states his or her best answer, trying to match as many of the celebrity answers as possible to win. In the new version, the commentary is sometimes a bit colorful but I still find myself so intrigued with the answers.

 

I find myself saying things like: “Oh, I would have never thought of that answer!” And, “Seems like there is only one possible answer for this.”

Even within my own living room, the answers vary widely. We like to shout out our answers and see if they match with the celebrity panel. (So far, my kindred spirit is Wayne Brady; our answers are nearly identical each round).

 

It gets me to thinking about how that variety of thinking within politics is missing and why we, as a culture, don’t enjoy entertaining other people’s ideas.

Americans, as a whole, have become especially dismissive of anything that doesn’t match their ideal or perceptions. As we watch Match Game and my daughter yells out an answer, I don’t immediately proclaim, “WRONG!” However, that is exactly what we witnessed from our current president during the 2016 election debates.

Why can’t we see past our personal echo chambers of information and find merit in what the other side has to offer?

 

The tagline on my email signature has a quote from Albert Einstein that I try to incorporate into my daily life. It reads, “When we all think alike, we don’t think very much.” This has been my guiding principle for nearly a decade now … and my email signature for about seven of those years.

In many instances, being a Democrat in a deeply red state, I play the role of the opposing viewpoint. However, I personally try to value the positions of others no matter what topic it might be. We have lost the idea that we can listen to each other and see value in the other side without having to disparage and humiliate along the way. 

It is incredibly disheartening to see. It is sad to see the ugliness that has grown from the partisan divide. Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” That is as true today as it was at the time it was spoken. We cannot remain polarized on both ends of the political spectrum and expect to grow as a nation. Remember that both the left wing and right wing are part of the same bird.

 

I love being a Democrat. But, I also know Republicans have a lot to offer this country. I would like to encourage each of you to be open to opposing views. At the very least, keep your divisive commentary from spewing onto social media and have more civil and productive conversations.

We all play a role in how our country proceeds.

Lynn Matthews is chair of the Washington County Democratic Party.

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