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Minnich: The basic recipe for government must include good taste | COMMENTARY

Sometimes the spice takes over the soup. That’s true in the kitchen, in politics, and in the news cycles that are contributing to our collective dyspepsia.

Certainly, most people could be excused for wanting to turn down the volume on the headlines. We have too much on our plates: The on-again, off-again saga of all things COVID; stories about how a new variant “could be” showing up or “may be” more lethal or more transmissible — “Breaking news!”

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Then, there is the political coverage. In all my years in the trade of covering and analyzing news, I can’t recall a time when so many people insisted on being lied to by the liars and yet refused to believe the truth when the facts are staring them in the face. That makes the current political environment something akin to professional wrestling meets carnival side show.

But then we never had a president who was a cult figure; despite the fact that he never won the most popular votes in a national election, cannot or will not differentiate between lies and truth, has been impeached twice and shown on live television inciting a riot that led to deaths and vandalism of the nation’s Capitol, he has supporters who cast him as a victim.

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This was the candidate who boasted prior to the 2016 election: “I could shoot someone in broad daylight in Times Square and still get elected.” People still voted for him.

When I was a young man, I registered as a Republican because I thought the party brought less drama than the Democrats.

Democrats would form a committee to change a light bulb; there would be much discussion about including all who wanted to participate in the removal of the old bulb and the replacement with the new one, but not much thought about the needed wattage.

The Republican party I signed up with just went to the closet, took the right bulb off the shelf, and changed the bulb while their opponent’s committee was still reading the minutes of the last meeting.

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One party was for profiting in business and keeping the money, and the other one was into everybody’s business and spending the money. OK, that’s an oversimplification, but it’s probably about as deep most people got into deciding which party worked for them.

It was less about liberal versus conservative personal politics and more about which party created or promoted work. A city with a Democrat for mayor always had a lot of Democrat firefighters and cops. A state or county with Republican leaders kept taxes down to please those who prefer that charity does, indeed, begin at home.

Self-interest is traditional and inherent in our constitution. But it can get out of balance. On-going racism, and the anti-immigration, xenophobic days of the mid-19th Century linger.

Human beings are rarely at their best when they stop thinking but keep on spreading stories bred in fear and ignorance or blindly keep faith with the indefensible.

Once people with more political ambition than talent or character find an audience, they can do a lot of damage to the ideals and processes we’ve always been proud of. Truth is hard to find in today’s social media wilderness, where anyone can claim an audience, and credibility is not valued as much as popularity.

This past election resets the standards. The results show that most people are tired of the either/or absolutism of the hard core Right, and there is no widespread passion for the aggressive left, either.

One thing we all value is fairness, even if we have different perspectives on how it is measured out. The very least we can do is stand for the ideal that hope and decency outclass and outperform despair; that hatred and fear and rewarding the bad acts of cults and opportunists are detrimental to justice and good government.

Dean Minnich was a Republican commissioner for two terms, and was a newspaper reporter, columnist, features and editorial writer, managing editor and publisher of six books. His column appears every Thursday. He reads email messages at dminnichwestm@gmail.com.

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