So, you know, I’m new to the political activism arena.
It has been a wild ride.
And for the record, I’m just a person. I’m not getting paid. I’m not working for a professional group. I’m winging it, for the most part. I go back and forth between exhaustion and exhilaration, and everything in between. I’m a wife, a mom, a daughter, a granddaughter, a writer, a church member… a lover not a fighter.
Unless you mess with my family, my friends, my money, or my rights.
I’m (legally) marching for issues that matter to me. I’m contacting my elected officials to let them know when I agree or disagree with what they’re doing. They do work for us and it’s their job to listen to us. I’m volunteering for organizations that advocate for education, the environment, and marginalized members of society…all causes that matter to me.
All of this activity makes me a better, more informed American. It teaches my children about the political process and what their rights are as Americans. (And even if you and I disagree on issues, these are also your rights and you have just as much of a right to do these same things as I do.)
I’m also meeting lots of like-minded people. We are having good, hard, meaningful conversations. The two marches I’ve attended were lovely events, with lovely, regular people like me, who want to exercise their right to free speech.
Recently, my local paper published two political editorials. The paper is a conservative publication and they have an easy job of preaching to their red town/county choir. I actually haven’t read it for many years, except during the time that I worked for them. Occasionally, someone will bring something to my attention and I’ll take a look.
I discovered that they are sadly choosing to feed the divisive political monster by publishing editorials that pit Republicans and Democrats within our community against one another. In one editorial, they stated that they publish news on liberals, such as the Women’s March, to provide political intel to their conservative readers: “So a story about John Lewis speaking nearby, local artists joining a protest in Atlanta or Coweta residents traveling to D.C. for a march is valuable intelligence for conservatives. It equips conservatives to counter the arguments and tactics of liberals, just as any smart football coach or military commander would study every available scrap of information about an adversary.”
As a community paper, and the only community paper, they are unfortunately furthering the divide, pitting neighbor against neighbor. When I march, I’m thinking about human beings. I’m marching for real people, with real stories. People who are losing their rights. Losing their healthcare. It’s a big deal to them and to me. To simplify, I’m doing what the Golden Rule tells me to do. I’m doing what my faith teaches me to do; yet editorials like this make me feel like Public Enemy #1.
In another editorial, the paper claimed that the “raucous events” that protesters are engaging in are unappealing to “sober, concientious Americans.” Sigh. For the record, conservative condescension and being spoken to like a child are unappealing to this sober, conscientious American. Is the paper really that threatened by a bunch of grandmas, grandpas, moms and dads with kids in strollers marching with no violence or rioting? And yet the conservative group of men protesting with machine guns at Centennial Park isn’t scarier to our paper? That doesn’t add up to me.
Now that our paper has publicly admitted to being a conservative cog in the Trump wheel, we no longer have to presume. I’m just disappointed that our community paper can’t try to raise the bar and be more inclusive of all members of the community they represent. Not surprised, but wholly disappointed.
The blue dots in this red sea are still here. We are just people who care. And we’ll just keep swimming.