Sampson: Dealing With The Current Political Divide

Sampson: Dealing With The Current Political Divide

It is often said that there are few good people in politics.  My experience is that it is a mixture much like anything else. While I certainly have encountered some that I distrusted — and for good reason — I can safely say that some of the finest people I have ever met are also actively involved in electoral politics.  Senator Markley, Representative Mastrofrancesco, and several others come immediately into mind. However, it is true that fewer and fewer “good” people are likely to take on the task going forward. The job is not for the faint of heart.

Even as little as 10 years ago, political disagreement in America was unlikely to disrupt a friendship, a marriage, or a beer with a neighbor or co-worker. Clearly it is a little hotter topic today.

As the divergence of the two political ideologies has widened, so the temperature of the conversation has heated up. There are few things we can agree on anymore, not contemporary public policy, and not even the value of our founding documents. 

For someone like me, this is heartbreaking, since my love of politics finds its source in the discourse and debate over right and wrong, moral and immoral, and the value of principles like individual liberty, civil rights, and the role of government.

Nearly every day now (and not because I go looking) I discover examples of contempt cast in my direction. Several weeks ago, I wrote an article literally calling for the end of the politics of personal destruction, condemning violence, focusing on what is objectively true about January 6th versus what is designed to divide us, and finally begging of my colleagues and neighbors to be the example on how to differ with respect. 

If only you could read some of the responses I have received to my apparently foolish request!  There was even an op-ed exclaiming the concern over my “loyalty” to former President Trump — a supposition based solely in my lack of desire to condemn him without actual evidence beyond CNN talking points. I wondered if this person even read what I had written, or anything I have said or done in the 11 years I have served our community.

Recently, someone took the time to capture a screenshot of yours truly laying back in my chair and saying a brief prayer prior to the start of a lengthy hearing on election laws — not realizing that the broadcast (though not the hearing) had begun. Such effort just to falsely claim I was “sleeping” on the job! The next day I woke up wondering what is next. Maybe a nice Photoshop of my head on Bigfoot will appear today! 

Nothing would surprise me anymore. At least this one gave me a good laugh. Still, it really is startling how out of hand politics has become. What shocks me the most is the sheer amount of hatred that exists in the hearts in a few of our neighbors. I am constantly asking myself — what exactly are they so angry with? Can it simply be that others have a different opinion than we do? I was raised to cherish and respect the diversity of ideas as our country’s strength. I believe we should value other’s freedom to live and think as they choose as highly as our own.

I will note that on the political spectrum I am considered a libertarian-leaning conservative Republican. That means my politics are based in the idea of every single person having the right and freedom to choose their own path in life and whatever pursuits they desire, including just being left alone, and keeping more of what they earn. Why is that opinion so deserving of hate?  

Every vote I take tends towards more freedom and less telling others how to live. Ironically, it is the modern Democrat party that is constantly regulating our lives and limiting our freedoms, interfering with private contracts, censoring speech, over-regulating businesses, making policy that ignores individual liberty, constitutional rights, and due process. Outside of criminal laws, I do not think I have ever voted yes on a bill proposal that requires my constituents to do something more than they did before. If anything, my focus has been to shrink government and grow personal choice and freedom.  

This also means that all the campaign propaganda claiming Republicans are racists, fascists, or bigots flies in the face of reason and common sense. Note that refusing to support policies that give the government more power is just that, nothing more.

As I said from the start, it’s not all bad. My time in office has provided me with tremendous experiences, quality relationships, lifelong friends, and infinitely more patience for those with more passion than maturity.

I remain hopeful those among us who are seized by anger will snap out of it before long. I truly feel bad for them. That is no way to live or to see the world. Maybe I am overly optimistic, but I have always believed that if I remain consistent about my beliefs and continue to offer kindness and respect, it will eventually be returned. 

State Senator Rob Sampson (R) represents the 16th District.

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