Press Talk: It's time to move forward

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian editor

Published:

 
photoLou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor.

Coming Sunday

Look for a special Press Talk column

It's time.

Time for our community to come together.

And coming together, I should say, in no way means we all should be in lockstep with one another. That we all should agree on everything. That we should be cautious of bringing passion and desire to a conversation. It also doesn't mean being frightened of pointing out when ideas stray off course.

What it does mean is identifying important pieces of the community puzzle that will move us forward. It means bringing some sense of equity to the working class of people who are the main fabric of Clark County. It means having businesses pay their fair share of the community bargain, but always appreciating that without those businesses there is no community bargain to be had.

This is such a wondrous place to live. Let's make sure it still is for our children.

But how do we get there? How do we end — or at least lessen — the crazy pieces of the puzzle that keep pulling us down?

We're running an unscientific poll on our website right now that hints at what we need to do. The question posed was this:

"How can we best bring our divergent county together?"

We listed four options. Here is how the voting was going on Friday:

• Look for moderates to lead us. (10 percent)

• Find common ground to concentrate on. (13 percent)

• Isolate those politicians who want to divide us. (14 percent)

• All of the above. (63 percent)

The poll suggests each concept has some support, but what it really tells us is this: No single thing will bring us the solution.

Look for moderates: We see how damaging both hard-right and hard-left politics can be. Hard conservatives don't want government to pay for much of anything — unless of course it's paying for their own self-interests, like free meals and laundry. Hard liberals want taxpayers to pay for just about everything, despite so many of us having no more to give. If we keep electing folks who are on the edges of the spectrum, we are doomed.

Find common ground to concentrate on: We are a goal-oriented country. We need to pick something we can work on and succeed at. Success breeds success, and it will give us a road map to succeed on other important issues. The Interstate 5 Bridge, for example, has been anything but common ground. It has shown this community at its worst.

But what if we were able to wipe the slate clean? I like the idea (not mine) of getting Republicans and Democrats together from Washington and Oregon to come up with a plan that most of us could agree upon. What if it didn't include light rail, and we waited on that issue for a later time? What if we made compromise happen?

Isolate those politicians who want to divide us: This is not particular to any single party, but it is obvious that County Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, as well as state Sen. Don Benton, are creating an unhealthy dynamic in this community. They all happen to be Republicans, but that's not what is important. What is important is they are sucking the life out of this community.

Recall is a silly waste of time. As voters, we made choices. Now we have to live with those choices. That's the way it works.

But we can isolate those who are bringing us down. Because the three mentioned above are Republicans, that party has to step up. There are so many good Republicans, but where are they? We don't hear their voices. Right now they're sitting back — shaking their heads a little — and enjoying the carnival.

But as citizens of this community we can no longer allow them to remain silent. If they want to support divisive people, so be it. That is their choice. And you should remember their support when they are up for election. If they do not agree, they must say so. And you should remember that when they are up for election. History has shown us that sitting back in silence is just as bad as making wrong choices.

And the freeholders — who are meeting now to look at changing how county government works — need to step up as well. Among many things, they should consider shortening the county commissioners' terms from four years to two years. That way if we make a mistake as voters, we can correct it sooner rather than later.

Hopefully there will be leaders who will embrace these ideas. Hopefully they will be moderate conservatives or moderate liberals.

Hopefully we will begin to move forward. Our community can no longer wait.