Some people identify as liberal, some as conservative. The definition of those labels have drasticaly shifted over the past 40 years. What was conservative in the early 1980s is now considered inexcusably moderate. Some Democrats want their party to move further left; some Republicans want to see their party  move further right. That has created what we all see across the nation today: two sides with little compromise, entrenched in their points of view.

Politics in America today is not completely broken regardless of what some pundits, news anchors and columnists would have us believe. The reality is there is work being completed by government bodies at every level, from Congress down to the smallest city council.

Congress passes legislation every week but that pales in comparison to the sexier news of constant embattlement between the two parties. In Keizer, population 39,000, one can find people of every ideological stripe, though most of the city’s councilors have been right of center. The city council gets the people’s business done when it comes to setting policy and approving budgets, all without rancor.

Our democracy allows for citizens to express their displeasure with decisons their government leaders make, be it via public testimony, letters or protests. That is all part of our civic discourse. That includes the press. It is not treasonous to question political leaders about their policies. Nor is it treasonous to say or write critically of our leaders. We do not live in a country built on the cult of personalities. We don’t have Dear Leader or Glorious Leader in America. Our leaders are elected by the people; if we don’t like what they are doing we can vote them out.

Not all liberals loathe the current president, not all conservatives embrace him. Voters knew what they were getting when they supported him with their votes. The fact that he trailed his opponent by three million votes fades in the face of his Electoral College victory.  Hate his policies and his behavior or support him, it is important to remember a keystone of military life:  respect (or salute) the rank, not the man. That is something big media forgets—it spends too much time on the president’s tweets rather than on the news items that affect most Americans.

Neither the people nor the press should follow a president blindly. The ability to oppose our leaders is as American as apple pie. It is democracy gone off the rails when people are accused of being unAmerican when they don’t support their leader. It is democracy functioning well when people use their words and actions to persuade others to their side regardless if it is a conservative view or a liberal view.

There is room is this big country for all points of view. A person is not horrible just because they disagree—that is unAmerican.   —LAZ