Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

The 2018 election cycle is upon us. I’ve actually gone door-to-door already and it’s only March. Margaret O’Brien and I have gone out a couple of times during the month with snow on the ground and the wind howling in our faces. For Margaret, she’s even more out there. She started in January. But that’s the nature of the political cycle in today’s era. Used to be you would get all the endorsements you could get and your opponent would as well. Then you each took out a full-page ad in the Gazette and see who won on election day. There were a few mailings and you would try going door- to-door. But who knew which homes had voters living in them?

Today, there are polls and consultants, and no good way to reach the voters – except for face-to-face conversation. Data bases predict the persuasion of each voter, based on observed and predicted patterns. Targeted mailings, digital ngerprints, polling, emails and it goes on and on. Quite scienti c.

And it all came down to 10,000 votes in the state of Michigan to determine the presidential campaign. It was 61 votes four years ago in the state senate race in Kalamazoo County. Only 46 votes determined the county commissioner in Portage’s 10th District two years ago.

Let’s face it: This country is divided. Almost exactly in half.

Now, let’s throw in a shooting at a high school in Florida and mix gun rights and the Second Amendment into the dialogue. Protests break out in high schools up and down our fruited plains and everywhere else in between.

An opioid epidemic claws at the country and thousands of deaths are reported throughout the U.S.A. Lawyers jump on their horses and start class-act lawsuits in every big and little town where drugs are (which I will tell you is everywhere). Now governmental bodies are even signing up for the pots of gold that lawyers are promising.

“Undocumented residents” becomes the misnomer for “illegal aliens.” IDs are now being handed out without traditional documentation, including Kalamazoo County. How long will it be until the lines blur between citizenship and residency? How long until anyone can vote, regardless of which country their allegiance lies?

Everyone has their own view of justice. My thought is that this country is doesn’t have a collective clue as to what justice is – or freedom for that matter.

Yet, two years ago a woman dies following an abortion at Planned Parenthood right here in Kalamazoo. Where’s the outcry? Where’s the legal community? Where’s the investigation by law enforcement? It’s been swept under the proverbial rug.

Is taking every gun away from each citizen going to make schools safer? Has gun-free school zones helped with the safety of our children? Is the issue safety or just getting rid of guns?

Why is life so precious for children at school and not to an unborn child in the womb?

Are we going to open our borders to anyone to enter to find out we’re surrounded by the enemy when war breaks out? What happens when our government rises up against its own citizens? What do we do then?

I don’t have any answers, but just want to warn everyone that we need to calm down and think about what we are advocating. It feels too much like the 1960s right now and I’m not sure I want to re-live that era again. There are issues that are important to me, but I can also respect issues that are important to others – even Democrats.

There are some really divisive issues this country, this state and this county are facing. Elections become a time of rabid loyalty to our candidates, and I’m no different than anyone else. But let’s keep some civility about us this election cycle. Violence is not the answer. Anger is not flattering and doesn’t influence anyone outside your own sphere of influence.

Calm insightful dialogue and spirited debate can be the best way of working through our issues to arrive at solutions. I encourage everyone to work for their convictions but settle with what’s best for the consensus amongst us. We owe it to each other to respect everyone.