Oct 31 2018

In one week, voters go to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. You’ve read the news, seen the ads, and, hopefully, many of you are planning to vote, if you have not done so already by absentee. 

No matter what your political persuasion, voting is a civic duty. It is one of the characteristics of this nation that make it unique and envied. Citizens of many nations strive to have the opportunity that is our birthright. 

Not only are you voting for Senate and House seats, there are also ballot measures to be decided, underlying the need for all to get to the polls and make their voices heard. It is an empty action to complain about our laws and lawmakers if one hasn’t taken the time to cast a ballot.  

Many would argue just going to the polls is not enough, and they are right. An uneducated vote is often a wasted vote. Prep yourself. Read up on the ballot measures. Read pros and cons from all sides. Even if your inclination is to vote straight ticket, take some time to research your decisions.  

Our newspaper’s in-depth interviews with many of the candidates and coverage of debates are available on Fauquier.com

On the front page of today’s edition is a checklist of five hot-button issues asked of all the candidates. It serves to point out that on many of the issues, the parties are divided as ever when it comes to their positions.  

What’s worse, last week’s horrific violence, including the heartbreaking synagogue shootings and the pipe bombs that were mailed – but, thankfully, never exploded – to high-profile critics of President Donald Trump are yet more evidence of our country’s deep ideological divide. 

Is this who we are as a people, so driven by our political intolerance that we act out in violence or fan the flames of hatred? 

We believe this not to be true. We believe these actions are outliers. Recent studies show that tribalism in political thought is driven by a small percentage of the population on the extreme edges of the political spectrum. 

Most of us are somewhere in the middle, trying to make sense of it all, trying to vote for the right people and issues based on our personal belief systems. Yet we interact on a daily basis, in all walks of life -- in business, education, school athletics and more – with people with whom we disagree. Our circles, our workplaces, even our families, are a likely a mix of liberals, conservatives, progressives and populists. 

We may differ in our religions, our worldviews and our ideas about the solutions to our nation’s problems, but we must do so with civility. It simply isn’t feasible to live in a silo insulated from others. In the end, it is our differences that give our country strength. 

So left, right, or somewhere in between, please take advantage of the gift so many fought to win and preserve for us: Vote.  

Then go one step further. Listen with patience, tolerance and an open mind to those who vote differently. In these divided times, while condemning political violence of all kinds, we must try to understand each other and find common ground.

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