Politics aside: Party shouldn’t define us
The biggest mistake Americans can make today is identifying themselves by political party. We should instead choose issues that need action, and seek consensus to make improvements, even if they are incremental. Party identification creates an “us vs. them” mindset where everyone loses.
Arguably, the biggest culprits to dysfunction in America are the Democratic and Republican parties, who turn Americans against each other. Americans have far more diverse views than two parties can contain, and far better ideas together than either party alone.
Yet, we Americans first allow ourselves to take on one of two group identities and then accept dehumanized caricatures of the other group, made from cherry-picked events and warped simplifications. The resulting conflict in government means that the parties struggle to reach 50% support for issues that the majority of Americans actually agree on.
Compromise is an essential feature of life in a civil society. Grudges and scorched earth behaviors create unnecessary conflict that wastes time and resources and ignore the presence of existing consensus among constituents. The true power of a group is demonstrated when it gets things done, and it’s arguably easier when party identity takes a back seat.
The revolution we seek is in renouncing party identity for the artificial, manipulative ploy that it is. Instead, let’s recognize big issues for the thorny things that they are and work together to resolve them as the diverse Americans we are, by seeking consensus and recognizing the value of compromise.
Joe von Fischer, Fort Collins
We approve of Biden — responses to the challenge
Re: “Who approves of Biden?” Oct. 24 letter to the editor
The letter you published in Sunday’s paper is so rife with half-truths and outright falsehoods that it might as well have come from The Desk of Donald Trump. I understand that the editorial board is trying to provide a forum for a range of opinions, but that effort should not facilitate the spreading of misinformation. One obvious reason for the president’s waning popularity is the widespread propagation of Republican talking points that have little or no basis in fact. I expect to see this kind of bilge on OAN or Fox, but not in The Post.
If you can’t find any anti-Biden commentary in your inbox that isn’t laced with Trumpian inaccuracy, maybe you should just leave a blank space in the letters column with the note: “Insert Right-wing Fantasy Rant Here.”
George Zepernick, Denver
I approve of President Joe Biden and the job he is attempting to do for us!
In answer to the letter, I would like to point out a few things. The following are not in the control of the president: gasoline prices, the supply chain problems, and the behavior of parents at school board meetings.
The empty shelves and inflation are being caused by the supply chain — not presidential policy. The shortage of workers is caused by a wide variety of reasons: obtaining education that allows entry to a new job; finding that the hours offered are not steady or guaranteed; finding that salaries/hourly wages don’t provide a livable wage; lack of workplace safety; lack of affordable childcare; founding their own business … the list goes on.
Drugs come into this country via ports — not individuals attempting to enter our country through the southern border. The released individuals are asylum seekers awaiting judicial hearings, but our immigration courts are behind. Their release is both humane and economical.
The investigation into the Jan. 6 uprising is both appropriate and necessary. Innocent visitors to the Capitol do not enter through a window they broke. The Capitol police were severely outnumbered and did their best to keep our elected representatives safe.
In the meantime, we must stop vilifying or threatening those who disagree with us. Let’s start listening and finding common ground. Let’s work together to keep our country an example of good governance.
Sally Isaacson, Denver
Thank goodness for the DAM and the Mayers
Re: “Under the rug: DAM’s acquisitions suspect,” Oct. 24 letter to the editor
I cannot fathom the gall of the the letter writer to suggest that Fred and Jan Mayer came by their acquisitions illegally. Here we have a museum where these two generous benefactors have given millions of dollars, time and effort to bring these artifacts to life for the
The Elgin Marbles were rescued by Lord Elgin at his own expense from Greece and brought to England from a heavily damaged Parthenon. Thank goodness for Lord Elgin and the British Museum. And thank goodness for the Mayers who have given the Denver Art Museum so much.
Jenene Stookesberry, Denver
What about Tina Peters?
Re: “Scandalous abuse of custodial funds and voter’s will,” Oct. 24 commentary
I find George Brauchler’s words in Sunday’s Perspective to be contradictory.
He states that “The secretary of state and attorney general have spent incredible sums of money,” that “could have been provided to local clerks and recorders, the true defenders of our election integrity,” and that “Colorado deserves a government that treats us with respect,” and “to at least discourage them from treating us with contempt.”
Enter Tina Peters, the “elected” clerk and recorder of Mesa County. Where’s her “respect” for us and your “contempt” for her, Brauchler?
Myra Louise Bender, Denver
Give us franchise and representative democracy
Re: “Colorado’s direct democracy is under attack,” Oct. 20 commentary and “Scandalous abuse of custodial funds and voter’s will,” Oct. 24 commentary
It is ironic to read Denver Post opinion pieces from Colorado Republican leaders Bill Owens and George Brauchler lauding direct democracy through voter initiatives. This is the same party working overtime to make voting more difficult wherever it controls state governments, designing gerrymandered legislative districts to assure that a minority of voters controls a majority of elected representatives, opposing the popular election of presidents, and united in its opposition to representation in Congress for American citizens living in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
It isn’t easy to find the right balance between the checks and balances of a representative, small “r,” republican form government governed by legislators and a directly responsive, small “d,” democratic form of government governed by voter initiatives. Those who drafted the United States Constitution struggled with the issue, and Americans have argued about it since 1789. But rapidly shifting from one side of an argument to the other based on self-interest and political preferences should at least be accompanied by a blush.
The drafters of the Constitution didn’t envision legislation by voter initiative, nor could they bring themselves to support the universal right to vote. I’d suggest that they were right to favor representative government, and wrong to limit the franchise to men with property. It would be better to see big “R” Republicans supporting a representative, republican government along with policies that encourage and enable widespread democratic participation in elections.
Paul Lingenfelter, Westminster
Rein in rhetoric
Re: “Denying refuge,” Oct. 24 commentary
Karen Musalo references Border Patrol agents on horseback “carrying whip-like cords while encountering migrants …”
That is not what is happening by the Border Agent on horseback, in the picture, on page 4D.
Reins are long leather straps, attached to a bridle, and are used to control and guide the horse. Reins are not whips. The professor should take a course on equestrian studies.
Jeffrey Esbenshade, Littleton
Fentanyl should be designated weapon of mass destruction
Re: “Fentanyl deaths surge,” Sept. 26 news story
The online headline of Elise Schmelzer’s heartbreaking report, “A drug of mass destruction’: Fentanyl deaths surge in Colorado, reaching an average of two fatalities a day,” was not hyperbole — there is a growing movement in the United States to have illicit fentanyl formally designated as a weapon of mass destruction.
Families Against Fentanyl, the nonprofit I founded after losing my son Tommy to fentanyl poisoning in 2015, has brought together experts and thousands of families to urge the U.S. to officially label illicit fentanyl a WMD. In July, we issued an open letter to the Biden Administration requesting formal WMD designation of illicit fentanyl. The letter was co-signed by senior national security experts spanning the George W. Bush, Obama and Trump presidential administrations.
A WMD declaration would open up previously untapped resources in the fight against illicit fentanyl; it would activate an all-of-government approach that would more aggressively target the smugglers flooding our country with the deadly drug at our nation’s borders. Most importantly, it would save lives.
James Rauh, Akron, Ohio
Help end this pandemic
Most anti-vaxxers seem to think that “my body, my decision” is an OK answer to those of us who wish that they would wise up and get vaccinated. Well, I have news for you. It’s not just your body, your decision.
Living in a civilized society demands that you obey certain rules: the rules of the road, for example, or the rule about not shooting a gun off in the city. Just because there is no penalty for you to not get vaccinated doesn’t mean it’s your choice. You are endangering others as well as yourself by your foolhardiness.
This pandemic would be over much sooner if only everyone eligible had got vaccinated. It’s science, y’all.
Susan Permut, Monument
Press for crisis intervention training in your hometown
Re: “Leaders request investigation,” Oct. 30 news story
It is because of such stories as this one that innovative mental health programs are essential and are growing across the country. The subhead says, “Police officer threw woman in crisis to ground after church staff called for medical help.”
Although many police officers have spent time in crisis intervention training regarding mental health, it is a person who is a mental health professional who can come on the scene and deescalate a situation and have access and resources for dealing with the person who is of concern.
I became an advocate for such programs after a friend’s daughter was arrested while in the middle of a psychotic episode. There was no mental health staff involved in her arrest. She was taken to jail and spent months without sufficient mental health support.
I encourage you to research such programs as CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets). This program began 31 years ago in Eugene, Ore. It is an innovative community-based public safety system to provide mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness and addiction. The CAHOOTS model has been in the spotlight recently as our nation struggles to reimagine public safety. There are other programs that are catching up to this humane program, such as CIRT (Crisis Intervention Response Team) in Boulder, CORE (Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement) in Longmont, STAR (Support Team Assisted Response) in Denver, among others. You can press for such programs in your community and focus on raising funds to make it happen.
Alan Johnson, Boulder
Immigration debate semantics
Re: “Rein in rhetoric,” Oct. 31 letter to the editor
Just a quick observation to the letter writer: If you feel you’re about to be trampled by a man on an 800- to 1,000-pound horse wielding a “long leather strap,” you probably don’t care if the dictionary calls it a rein (long leather strap) or a whip (long leather strap).
Steve Caplan, Durango
These gun deaths could have been prevented
Re: “Rittenhouse self-defense claim is strong, legal experts believe” and “Justice Dept. to pay $88M to families, victims of massacre,” Oct. 29 news stories
The words in the headline, “Rittenhouse self-defense claim is strong,” should make Americans sick to their stomachs, but it won’t. Why? Because we love our guns more than anything on Earth, and the idea that a 17-year-old takes an “AR-style semiautomatic rifle” from one state to another and kills two men and wounds another and purports “self-defense,” well, it’s business as usual.
Elsewhere, in the same edition of The Post, “Justice Dept. to pay $88M to families, victims of massacre,” because a gun background check was bungled. Shame on the background checkers.
Meanwhile, down in New Mexico, fingers are being pointed at the producers, head armorer, and Alec Baldwin over the gun-
related death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Lawsuits will be filed and paid off. Maybe some additional punishments will follow — a year or more from now.
Meanwhile, the dead are still dead.
Craig Marshall Smith, Highlands Ranch
Where are the Rams headed?
When I was a younger man, there was a big ruckus about a plan for a bridge in Alaska that went nowhere. I am an old man now and the Colorado State Rams football team is going nowhere. I don’t remember what they did about the bridge. But, I know it is time to clean house in Fort Collins!
William Hagen, Dacono
Banish the glee over Miller trade from the news pages
Re: “Miller partly responsible for Broncos’ current state,” Nov. 2 commentary
Von Miller is traded to the LA Rams and your lead story and the headline on page 1A is a mean spirited “glad the guy is gone” opinion column about this.
If this trade is the most important story of the day, report the story but a column claiming Miller was the big problem with the Broncos performance lowers the credibility of your paper. Keep the sports columns in the sports section. Keep news on the front page.
Michael May, Lakewood
Westminster fails to honor chief’s 35 years of service
Re: “Chief retires amid criticism,” Oct. 9 news story
As a former Westminster department head for almost 30 years, it was so disheartening to see how former Police Chief Tim Carlson’s personnel matter was handled. What is not mentioned in the press release about the so-called independent investigation that led to his resignation was the fact that Tim dedicated his career and his life to law enforcement and the City of Westminster.
During his time with the city he was shot and injured in a car wreck while pursing a fleeing felon in 2010. As with his fellow police officers, Carlson put his life on the line every day he showed up to work. One must understand the challenge of managing a police department of hundreds of law enforcement personnel at a time in our country’s history of bitter divisions concerning the delivery of law enforcement services.
Add to that a cacophony of demands by the police union How many department heads in Westminster and other local governments have seen themselves asked to or forced to leave their positions as a result of a change in perception of their management effectiveness. The next police chief will be considered better at “herding cats” than Chief Carlson– until they aren’t. But there are ways to handle personnel issues in a way that honors the service an employee has given without subjecting that employee to public humiliation. Westminster woefully failed in this regard.
Martin McCullough, Westminster
Polis must prioritize air quality
Re: “Governor wants record $40B budget,” Nov. 2 news story
As an Adams County Commissioner, it is my job to help make my community a safer, more successful place for both my constituents and visitors. But with such frequent Air Quality Action Alerts issued by our state department of health this summer, it makes my job difficult.
Poor air quality, caused by climate change and oil and gas development, impacts all of us. It can prevent people from getting outside and enjoying the great outdoors Colorado is known for and consequently affect our outdoor
economies, and it can particularly affect individuals with respiratory diseases or those who live in disproportionately impacted
Colorado needs bold action now from state leaders to get this issue under control. The Air Quality Control Commission can be part of the solution by adopting rules to directly regulate oil and gas activity to reduce air pollution. I urge others across the state to let Gov. Jared Polis and the AQCC know that we must act swiftly to address this environmental, public health and economic issue to protect all Coloradans.
Eva Henry, Adams County
Hold Congress to account
Re: “Oil giants deny spreading disinformation,” Oct. 29 news story
So Congress is holding hearings on misinformation coming from the oil companies. My question is, when are we going to hold hearings on all the misinformation coming out of Congress?
Robert Baxter, Pine Junction
Who approves of Biden?
President Biden’s approval rating is a low 38%. How is it that high?
The southern border is catastrophic. In the last two months alone, Biden’s administration has released 70,000 illegals into the U.S. Biden, the cartels’ best friend, has enabled greatly increased smuggling of drugs, people, weapons, gang members, and terrorists, and sex trafficking, increasing cartel income by hundreds of millions.
Gas is up $1/gallon because Biden destroyed our energy independence. Inflation is at a 30-year high, raising costs, including home heating costs.
Shelves are emptying. There are 10.4 million jobs available, but not enough workers to offload ships and stock shelves. Government COVID policies and free money programs have disincentivized work.
The Department of Justice and the FBI were asked to be weaponized against parents who get passionate at school board meetings and they are going after Jan. 6 Capitol protesters, many of whom thought they were welcome since Capitol Police stood aside.
The horrible, botched Afghanistan withdrawal should have dropped Biden’s approval rating to zero. Thirteen soldiers killed, Americans (and green-card holders) left behind enemy lines, and $85 billion in military equipment left for the enemy. Our allies were not given sufficient warning to get their personnel out. The Taliban is killing and torturing. Biden doesn’t even mention it.
If you approve of the job Biden is doing, please write and tell why.
Bruce Many, Eckert
Oust DeJoy to save USPS
A force harming the Postal Service, is strengthening its influence. Postmaster Louis DeJoy, former CEO of New Breed Logistics, a supply chain management company, appointed by Trump in June 2020, effectively slowed the Postal System prior to the 2020 elections.
Louis DeJoy will maintain his USPS position until we ask Biden to replace Ron Bloom from the Postal Board of Governors so that the president and the Postal board can fire DeJoy. A CBS headline says “Mail delivery slowdown: USPS to slow delivery starting October 1.” While a Forbes Headline says: “Louis DeJoy’s Former Company, New Breed Logistics, May Have Overcharged Postal Service By $53 Million, Audit Found.”
I love the post office. It has performed its function of maintaining our democracy with unbiased, excellent and unfailing, carrier service, to every corner of the nation, not just the profitable ones. Please petition President Biden to replace Ron Bloom on the USPS Board of Governors.
John Hoffmann, Carbondale
Under the rug: DAM’s acquisitions suspect
Re: “Six relics still at Denver museum,” Oct. 16 news story
The recently published article about the illegally obtained Cambodian artifacts, by the Denver Art Museum (DAM), is also covered in detail in the Washington Post. The artifacts were illegally looted out of Cambodia, illegally transported into the U.S., and purchased or donated to the DAM knowing full well their nature.
Perhaps this would not be so bad if it were an exception to their acquisition policy. But it is merely a tip in the DAM iceberg of iniquity. One window I got on that is a few years ago when I was participating in an international archaeological conference in Paris. I mentioned to European archaeologists that I was helping with an exhibit at a Denver museum, and they asked “which museum, the good one or the bad one?” The good one, I was told, is the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the bad one is the Denver Art Museum. I asked why is the DAM internationally considered to be so bad, and they said it is one of the worst in the world for buying illegally looted and smuggled artifacts.
Consider, if you will, the items donated from a Denverite who got very rich from oil and gas in Texas, named Fred Mayer. Mayer and his wife Jan are listed as the donors of at least a dozens, possibly more, archaeologically significant items from Costa Rica — including many jade beads and pendants.
I have been doing research in Costa Rica since 1984, and the country has been very strict that no ancient artifact can leave the country without permission, and then it is only for loan. I have seen the archaeological sites that have been destroyed by looters seeking artifacts for illegal international sales, especially exquisite jades, and also polychrome pottery and other artifacts. And some of those types of artifacts are proudly on display in the DAM. How did a private donor acquire them legally?
Those artifacts must be returned to their country of origin: Costa Rica. I volunteer to assist with contacting the appropriate authorities in Costa Rica, and assist with their return.
Payson Sheets, Boulder
Editor’s note: Sheets is a professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder.
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