Elections matter. They matter so much that here we are, nearly a year after the presidential election, and evidently Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are still running against each other. This is how divided we've become. And those two have done more to divide us further than bring us together.
We as a people need to face it and fix it, without the help of Trump and Clinton since help from them is not forthcoming. We can start by not treating each other as enemies just because we disagree politically.
In that spirit, we'd like to call your attention to a campaign event in a different election and what we all can learn from it. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, who hopes to replace U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Dallas, appeared at a rally in San Antonio. (We are not focusing on this event to promote O'Rourke or bash Cruz, which would have been a fair assumption.)
At this event, according to the San Antonio news website The Rivard Report, a Democratic precinct chairman demanded that O'Rourke disavow U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio. O'Rourke refused, and the precinct chair responded by saying O'Rourke would not have his support and that O'Rourke is "backstabbing" Democrats. O'Rourke stood his ground, calling Hurd both a "good friend" and "good legislative partner," according to The Rivard Report.
Google "O'Rourke" and "Hurd" and Google will add "road trip" to the search automatically. O'Rourke and Hurd received a lot of attention last spring when they drove 1,600 miles to Washington, D.C., together after a flight was canceled. They made the best of their impromptu bipartisan road trip, documenting their good-natured debates on social media along the way.
Hurd and O'Rourke differ philosophically. They stake out common ground where they can find it. And they remain friends who differ philosophically.
They are where the rest of us need to be — where Trump and Clinton need to be, where House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi need to be. That place is the United State of America — the one envisioned by the people who founded the country and who did not anticipate the invention of political parties.
We're not saying political parties are the problem. But virulent partisanship like that displayed by the precinct chairman definitely isn't the solution. The encouraging sign, for San Antonio Democrats in the micro view and the nation in the macro view, is that the hyper-partisan precinct chairman appeared to have been in the minority. O'Rourke received a lot of encouragement from others at the event who agreed with him that bipartisanship was a worthwhile pursuit, according to The Rivard Report.
An online comment on The Rivard Report from someone identified as Dansk Tex said better than we can say what needs to be said:
"A big problem in our society is people wanting others to blindly believe as they believe and to never reason and question. I can tell you as a long-time Democrat, there are some bad politicians in the Democratic party. I can tell you that there are some bad policemen in the SAPD. There are some bad Christians going to church every Sunday. It is silly for anyone to quit thinking and reasoning and even sillier to ask someone else to quit thinking and reasoning. Judge each person individually and do not give a blanket endorsement of support for everyone within ANY organization!! We need to start thinking and reasoning again in America."
The moral of this story isn't let's all vote for O'Rourke, or Cruz, and make the world a better place. The outcome of Texas' 2018 U.S. Senate race is immaterial to the lessons gleaned from O'Rourke's campaign stop. We don't even know yet if O'Rourke will be the Democratic nominee or Cruz the Republican nominee, though both are highly likely.
What we do know is that O'Rourke isn't the enemy of Cruz voters and, likewise, Cruz isn't the enemy of O'Rourke voters. They're all people who, despite their differences, have surprisingly much in common.
Elections matter a lot. But they are not wars. To move forward, we will need each other's differing viewpoints.