Possibilities, pandering and polarization
As of this writing, it is cold but sunny and by local standards, darn pleasant. How different my perspective on little things like weather have become in over three years now in North Dakota!
We talked about weather and the relativity of “nice” a lot this week. Along with my veteran staff members who are local and been at the paper for decades, we have a couple of younger staff people around the office from warmer environs. It’s always fun to watch people react to weather forecasts for “Feels like 30 below” and then get used to it. It makes it must-see TV to then watch the news in the office and see people in Washington, D.C., running for their lives because of six inches of snow.
Ha! By now, even my warm formerly Southern blood mocks the idea of six inches of snow even making the news.
That said, the reports say possibly today and a few other days ahead are going down in the “I can’t get away with just a sweater” category. Please be careful and don’t forget the pets. Odds are if you read my column, you’re not exactly alarmed, but for those here still adjusting…
Besides, my trusty writer and colleague and in-house weather guru Kim Fundingsland points out that winter is peaking and it won’t be but a few weeks before temps trend up and – odds are – we will have enjoyed another mild winter. Perchance to dream… spring seems mighty appealing.
So, if you read this column last week, you’ll remember I apologized for how frequently I’ve uses this space to ask for reader submissions.
So, naturally I want to talk reader submissions and how you can appear in print again today!
Over the past couple of years, our Arts section has featured the works of local artists and interviews with them. It’s been incredibly popular, well read, and has illustrated how much talent there is in our community. We’ve featured artists from high school students to professors, from teens to seniors. It’s been an honor to showcase these incredible artists.
However, I am out of artists to feature and I don’t want the feature to end… ever. So, if you are an artist of any kind, please drop me a line and we will line you up for a cover feature. And those artists already featured? The moment you have new works to unveil, drop me a line. For second-timers, I have a whole different approach to the interview part I think you would enjoy. It’s easy and who doesn’t need full-color, section front exposure to add to their portfolio. I hope to hear from you.
Have you been following the state Legislature in action so far this session? We have. Without discussing particular legislation or legislators, my observation has been that the Legislature appears to me to spend a lot of time on proposed bills that are never going to pass, have no chance of surviving judicial review and are, rather, pandering to select voters in the worst example of virtue signaling.
Not that the U.S. Congress is much better, but this isn’t the cesspool of Washington, D.C., and North Dakotans come across way, way, way more sincere than the denizens of the nation’s capital.
We should expect better and not reward those who spend the session on politics instead of policy. Enough said.
The nation’s political environment continues to be more polarized and hostile all the time. It touches everywhere, which personally I just don’t feel is good for those of us who are just private citizens doing the best we can for our families.
It is here too. As neighborly and fundamentally decent as people are in this part of the country, this polarization is as strong here now as elsewhere.
How can I tell? In the past week, I’ve received messages and emails from people enraged at things that appeared in Minot Daily News and been accused of being both a wild-eyed liberal to a John Birch Society member. One day I got back to back calls, viciously assailing me personally, the first from an angry conservative, the second from an angry progressive.
Yet, none of the complaints had anything to do with the thing that we actually focus on here – local news. None had anything to do with anything we’d written. Instead, complaints were about Associated Press national news, cartoons and… even about letters to the editor we published. One caller wanted to debate with me the contents of the letter to the editor. I’m not sure I even know how to do that! Our opinions appear only on this page under “Our Opinion.” I express opinions in this column, but stay away from national politics. Sure, AP is an issue. I recognize bias there. There is little I can do. My staff doesn’t cover national news. We care about what happens in your neighborhoods not in the swamp of toxic D.C. While we have opinions on national issues – our board has a mix of conservative, liberals and libertarians – we can’t influence national news. But we also can’t avoid it. What qualifies as national news is out of our control – unfortunately at times.
The polarization doesn’t surprise me. Perhaps a little disappointed is all. I grew up in an environment when people could disagree – even wildly disagree – and still be friends and agreeable. When I see a nation where so many people lack that decency and maturity, it makes me wonder if we really are an exceptional nation anymore. These days, we look more like Venezuela.