Three Questions* with Christopher Suprun, Republican elector for Texas for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

 Three Questions with Christopher Suprin, Republican elector for Texas for the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

  1. Why are we so bitterly divided?

I would argue since the 1990s American political parties have become more politically pure. Parties have pushed out their own who have independent streaks - people who are seeking compromise and working solutions all too often.

There is no tax Democrats don't love or Republicans hate.

We recently mourned the passing of Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-IL), but I do not think he could be elected leader, much less to Congress in the current environment.  Similarly, where are the Democrats’ leaders on national security? People like Sam Nunn or Bob Kerrey?  As the parties have become more ideologically driven we have lost solutions to problems as a focus.  Where are partisans coming together?  I miss Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles seeking to put America’s fiscal house in order.

There also seems to be a shift physically: cities versus suburbs and urban areas.  While not universal, cities seem to go Democrat and the countryside Republican.  Voters in suburbia seem to be the swing vote.  This physical divide though I think alienates us from one another whether the assumption is rednecks don’t understand us sophisticated city dwellers or vice versa.

These natural divisions are exacerbated because it’s easier to explain who is the danger or problem than it is to solve problems.  Go back to grade school.  From an effort standpoint it’s easier to say my dog ate my homework than actually do the homework.

Personally I think the Affordable Care Act is a bad piece of legislation that was forced through without bipartisan support.  Historically this type of legislation does not fare well.  For eight years though my party, the Republican Party has told everyone how bad it is.  It is hard to see now that they have any ideas thought to solve the original problem or replace the ACA with something better.  The dog ate my homework has become Congress’ excuse too.

The media is no help.  The main stream media for all its inherent liberal bias gave Donald Trump a billion dollars in free advertising last year.  Their interest in a horse race resulted in another campaign season where we talked about no issues.  I never heard a substantive debate on immigration, health care, or national security.  It’s hard for voters to choose candidates based on issues when there is no coverage of issues - just the violence at rallies from crowds and protesters on both sides.

  1. In your opinion, how can the gap be best bridged?

As a nation, as individual states, and as local neighborhoods I will argue for two items,

First, my grandparents always said you have one mouth and two ears so you should listen twice as much as you talk.  Listening is a lost art that few rarely do anymore and the focus has been on holding your tongue until you can drop your sound bite into the conversation.  There is some value on rhetoric, but we are not arguing issues, but trying to score points for donors, associations, and the next election.

Second, we need to get back to discussing ideas openly and honestly.  One example comes again from my grandparents, all of whom are now dead.

I love my grandparents dearly.  They were good people from our greatest generation.  They survived the Great Depression, they fought tyranny in Europe and Asia.  That being said I remember even as a youngster them decrying welfare and its inherent evil, but they had no problem cashing their social security check.  They actually believed that their money had gone into a magic lockbox bank account and had not been paid out while they were working to others who were already retired.  This idea still exists and what few politicians will say is that something like 30% of our federal budget goes to social security and healthcare payments.

I would not call my grandparents millionaires, but they had multiple pieces of property they rented out.  They did not need a monthly social security check to get by, but gladly took their “free money” too.  Reforming entitlements though is like taming a tiger - a job that doesn't happen in a day.  In the meantime, we add to them and we do so on both sides.

Two ways I think we can bridge gaps is to have open, honest communication, but that requires not only message to be sent, but message received.  As often as not we prefer to skip the messages we don’t like and simply tune out.

  1. Do you have anything else to share?

As Americans I think we need to stop speaking in tones of fear and violence.  I am amazed daily by the people who think someone is coming to get them be it an immigrant, a law enforcement officer, or some other boogey man.

When I decided not to vote for Donald Trump I was attacked from the right.  Prior to that people attacked me from the left for not being willing to vote for Hillary Clinton.  In both cases, there were suggestions of civil war and resultant violence if their side did not win because of my actions.  We have to get past that.

This is America and we are lucky to live here.  Not every vote in Congress goes my way, but the answer is not riots and violence.  I am offended by those in Texas who pushed the Texit strategy just as I am bothered by Calexit talk.  We fought an internal war 160 years ago over the right to leave the union when we didn't like how things were going.  The fact is we are all in this together and we would do well to remember that and try to work together instead of fighting over pieces like we are in scarcity mode.  America is not a poor nation, but a land of abundance.

Abraham Lincoln was right when he said “Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.”  We should not be threatening one another over votes.  That is what happens in third world nations, not America.  More recently Ed Koch said if you agree with me on nine out of twelve issues you should vote for me.  If you agree with me on twelve out of twelve you should see a psychiatrist.  He was right.  None of our candidates are perfect.  We need to stop expecting perfection and settle for effort to work hard and hold them accountable to be honest servants.

Christopher can be located on Twitter at: @thechrissuprun

 

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