Our differing opinions don't make us a 'fringe group'
I read the column your paper recently published by Patrick Biggs expressing his opinion about "fringe-group values" showing up at the Washington County GOP meeting in Sherwood. As I read his column my dismay turned to outrage. When confronted with people who disagree with his choices and views, he labels them "fringe group." The people he calls "fringe" are our family, friends and neighbors. To us they are people, not labels. Their views matter. We listen to those coming to a public meeting — not to judge every word, but to "hear" how public policy affects them. To find common ground. To compromise if we can and try to persuade if we cannot.
Our towns have been tolerant — which means we can agree to disagree respectfully. If not that, at least allow the differences to exist. We value diversity of opinion. We protect even the speech that offends us. You do not have to be tolerant of views with which you agree.It is with ease that people label all who voted for President Trump "fringe." The same for state politics. The recent cap and trade demonstration in Salem was telling; the "fringe" are often the people who grow your food, they drive the trucks that allow commerce, they support their families using renewable resources, they build your houses, do your plumbing, operate or work for small businesses and nonprofits, teach in your schools and work for government agencies (although they have to hide their opinions for that.)
Many voters choose not to voice their opinions because people in the mainstream demean them or threaten their jobs or businesses. Outnumbered by metropolitan voters, political power for much of Oregon is null and void.Gov. Kate Brown's willingness to have the Legislature overturn the will of the people in two statewide elections tells me all I need to know about who is "fringe." This is supposed to be a government of, for and by the people. She scorns them. Didn't we vote for a referendum before any new taxes were levied? Didn't we vote for no driver's licenses for those here illegally? Didn't we vote to relieve businesses of excessive tax burdens?We should listen to any citizen voicing concerns about how government actions affect them. With respect. Disdain for their spoken concerns undermines our form of government. The danger is one of complacency and failure to speak at all. Those who demand tolerance for themselves are all too ready to deny it to those with whom they disagree. As for representation in Republican forums — sometimes it has been hard to distinguish the Republican from the Democrat. Hence, the rise of populists. Differing voices are important. Let all have their say. Examine facts rather than rely on group think and the opinions shoved at you by those with power and influence. Know how proposed legislation will affect all of our citizens. Shouldn't there be an effort to be sure entire swaths of our state aren't compromised? On Independence Day, I participated in the celebration at Newell House (Champoeg) in the reading of the Declaration of Independence. We refreshed ourselves on the dangers of tyranny, the responsibilities of being self-governed and the costs of challenging established power. There was a group of youth and children leading a quiz on American history. They were impressive in their deep understanding and enthusiasm for our history and active in questions and answers. I left believing they were probably home-schooled. I wonder if their parents would be considered "fringe?"
Valerie Brooks is a Sherwood resident
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