The best conversations with someone of opposing views begin with the discovery that there might be some areas of agreement. For instance, we might all agree that political ads painting your opponent as the devil incarnate don't garner many votes. These ads do more to demean the candidate who campaigns on their opponent's alleged faults rather than their own strengths.
We might also agree that the Biden Harris ticket and what it stands for is the polar opposite of the Trump Pence ticket. We can also most likely agree that any more debates will shed no illumination on the candidates and be thankful that the final two debates have been called off.
- Trustworthiness is critical. What is the ratio of truth to outright lies, distortions, political hyperbole or just plain gaffes? Reviewing the past four years, there is one candidate who has a demonstrable record-breaking track record of excuses, blaming others and distortions of the truth. When caught, we hear about fake news or walking something back or it was just a joke. This criterion is pretty easy to judge.
- Developing a great leadership team. Expertise that is listened to, people of integrity, people that our allies respect and our enemies fear, people who are not afraid to tell the President that he is wrong and people that are loyal because the loyalty has been earned are all characteristics of the leadership team we should expect. The group surrounding the White House incumbent has come and gone voluntarily, been fired or indicted and convicted. Hardly the team that should be continued for a second term.
- The ability to respect expertise and develop policy based on scientifically proven facts. For those of us with friends and families that have had their loved ones die , who are experiencing the economic impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic or have their children and grandchildren failing in school, the sad conclusion is that the White House has failed to develop a national program to deal with this tragedy. No, it is not the Chinese disease. It is the world's disease and we are part of the world.
- Showing empathy. Empathy means you care about those less fortunate than yourself. This means the 30 million who remain unemployed and may soon be evicted. This means immigrants who want to come to this country and are willing to follow the rules. Desperate people do desperate things. To separate them from their children is not empathy. It is inhumane.
- Having the foresight to recognize that we need to address climate change and sea level rise. Consider people in California or along the Gulf Coast. Continuing to support fossil fuel use rather than alternate energy sources will put us behind a world that is quickly moving away from the old technologies.
- The ability to acknowledge the pain of others. Calling the folks who want to find a solution to police abuse of force a "bunch of thugs" ignores the reality of both the Black and Blue Lives Matter movements. Branding your opponent a "socialist" because he won't abandon the 20 million people who have taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act does not solve the issues of improving medical care for all our citizens and taxpayers. There are 440 people in Graham County who would not have insurance without this program and every one of them should beware of the White House goal of killing this benefit.
- Respect for the voters' intelligence. Dissing a patriot like Senator McCain because he was a prisoner of war and showing disrespect for Gold Star families is a slap in the face to our military. Abandoning treaties and organizations causes our allies to lose their trust in us and our enemies take advantage. Bragging about a tax reform package that made the rich richer and did nothing for the middle class. Ignoring income inequality only angers the workers who see the corporate titans become wealthy as Midas while they struggle to put food on the table and provide a better education for their children. Paying your fair share of taxes is not being a "sucker and a loser." It may be "smart" but it is not right and certainly does not earn my vote.
Many of the residents of Graham County rely on the Good Book for guidance when conflicts occur. Consider Mathew 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Predictions of massive voter fraud, unwillingness to agree to a peaceful transition if you lose, creating distrust in wearing a mask until you get the disease, wild conspiracy theories that stoke up hate groups are all behaviors that seem to define false prophecy.
We all need to look deeply into our hearts and have a conversation with ourselves and people we respect. Are the lifelong mountain values inherited from generations past best continued by the incumbent? Was America made great again in the past four years? Should we trust the next four years to someone who has had few leadership successes and many failures? The unavoidable answer to these questions is that the risk is too great. That is why the Biden Harris ticket is the best way forward.