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Scanlan: We don’t need to agree politically, but we should at least be truthful

A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of walking with about 75 other Carroll countians in the first annual Pride March, sponsored by PFLAG. July 13th marked the second annual Westminster Maryland Pride Festival on Main Street. Every Saturday, across from the Westminster Public Library, one can see a grassroots Gathering for Inclusion.

Speaking of grassroots, two groups have been formed in the past two years, CarrollCAN and VOCAL. CarrollCAN’s mission states they are “committed to action in our community and nation that honors diversity, promotes equality and is inclusive, ethical and just.” VOCAL is a nonpartisan group devoted to educating the public about local issues in order to build informed community involvement. Their first important accomplishment was working toward the adoption of the Carroll County Ethics Ordinance, finally bringing us in compliance with state law. Currently they are working on developing an impartial, factual analysis of the possible move to charter government here in the county. Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality and our local NAACP demonstrate how important diversity is for us who live in Carroll County. Common Ground on the Hill just wrapped up its 25th Traditions Weeks workshops and festival.

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I mention all these examples to highlight just a few of the positive things that are happening in our community on a regular basis. Too often politics and ideology unnecessarily divide us. Those who peruse the opinion page of the Times might think all that matters to people is whether one is a Democrat or Republican, whether one is conservative or liberal.

It is absolutely vital that we as a people remain informed and passionate about the things that are important to us. It is a healthy sign when we participate in our First Amendment rights to proclaim our beliefs and to engage in robust debate. For this to work, however, we must be willing to listen, to consider, and to be honest. Too often commentators are unwilling to do any of those things.

I am tired of the intellectual laziness of editorials that rail against “the Left” and “liberals” as if they are some megalithic entity. The diversity of thought in progressive movements is wide ranging. For some, access to health care is a critical issue; for others it is the rampant gun violence in our country that motivates them to be involved. Locally, Waste Not and the Sierra Club work to protect the environment. Does that make them Leftists to be vilified?

Similarly, I am disturbed at the dishonesty portrayed by some of these same commentators. To claim that some liberals promote infanticide is both ridiculous and appalling. I know of no person, left or right, who thinks abortion is a good thing. Furthermore, to suggest that the current debate over abortion is some sort of Democratic plot to divide the country would be laughable if not such an insidious proposition.

We don’t need to agree, but we should at least be truthful. The Mueller report did not exonerate the president. It simply did not find sufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy. It did find 10 instances of potential obstruction of justice. Not exactly exoneration.

Most reasonable Americans want our country to be secure. To proclaim Democrats want open borders is a lie, plain and simple. Finally, progressives (or liberals or Leftists or whatever label you want to apply) have legitimate concerns with specific policies of the current administration in Washington. It has nothing to do with Hillary, trust me on this one. Instead of name calling and overgeneralizations, a discussion of the issues might be more productive.

One local example is the current conversation about whether Carroll County should transition from our commissioner system to a charter. While I don’t claim to be an expert, it sure seems that a reasonable, rational examination of the pros and cons would be useful. The hyperbolic anti-charter rhetoric makes me suspicious of their motives. The same factions that fought county ethics are now focused on fighting charter. The same politician who made us fear the United Nations was going to confiscate our pickup trucks now warns us against the tyrannical rule of an all powerful overlord, called a county executive. To borrow from William Shakespeare – they doth protest too much. Our current Board of Commissioners should form a committee to begin work on a charter. Let the facts and the voters decide whether charter is right for Carroll.

Instead of retreating to our ideological corners, what if we were to discuss and listen to each other? Instead of name calling, what if we show respect? Instead of overgeneralizing in an attempt to marginalize those with whom we disagree, what if we are honest and fair? What if?

Tom Scanlan writes from Westminster.

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