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On Monday night I was graciously welcomed and given a nice meal of Gardner’s Barbecue and fried shrimp at the Nash County Republican Party’s county convention at Nash Community College.
At previous times, I have been equally welcomed and also enjoyed barbecue and chicken courtesy of Nash County Democrats.
All such meals are inevitably accompanied by political speeches and partisan cheerleading extolling the virtue of the party’s platform and candidates. Monday’s meal also included sweet tea and banana pudding.
I have now reached two important conclusions. One, I like eastern North Carolina barbecue. I’ve never had it anywhere else in all the many different cities I have lived around the country.
Two, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between Nash County Republicans and Nash County Democrats. Both groups are good people, friendly and generous, willing to sit beside and be cordial to an “enemy of the people” like me.
Most importantly, when you strip away the partisan rhetoric required for party functions and really listen to their deepest desires and aspirations, they want the same things.
Republicans want safe borders and a sense of security for their families. So do Democrats.
Democrats want clean air and water and a healthy environmental policy that respects the fragile earth we live on. So do Republicans.
Republicans respect the flag, honor veterans and support a strong national defense and military. So do Democrats.
Democrats want to have good health care for their families without undue restrictions and without going broke. So do Republicans.
Democrats and Republicans want their children to have a good education so they can become productive and prosperous adults out on their own.
Republicans and Democrats want to be treated fairly and honestly, want justice, care about people they believe in need and are sympathetic to others with disabilities.
Democrats and Republicans have those who love God and atheists, saints and sinners, geniuses and dolts, the greedy and the gracious, liberals and conservatives, good and bad cooks.
Nobody wants to feel worthless or inferior, be ripped off or deceived, disrespected or insulted, ignored or abandoned, embarrassed or humiliated, helpless or hopeless.
Nobody wants to be, or even feel, unloved.
Our political leaders, seduced by power and advantage, play partisan games and too frequently put their party before their principles.
Sen. Thom Tillis fell into that trap last week with his cowardly reversal of his stance on congressional opposition to declaration of a national emergency on the southern border. After writing he would support the resolution of disapproval, he caved and voted for it at the last minute with the flimsiest of excuses.
And neither party has a monopoly on foul mouths, selfish and stupid behavior or simple criminality.
Party faithful on both sides have made the current political atmosphere worse by forgetting the value and importance of compromise, creating impasses instead of empathy, obstacles instead of cooperation. Partisan extremism uses primaries as threats to keep their politicians in line regardless of how bad that line is.
But here at home, most of us just want to have a good job and enough to eat, access to good health care when we need it, good schools and playgrounds for our kids, good cops to keep the crooks away, clean air and water, reliable trash collection and no potholes in the road.
We can differ on the best way to go, but I’m convinced most Americans have the same aspirations and goals. My wish is that we can recognize all the things we have in common and the goals we share so that we can look past the political labels, live and let live, work together on the problems our country has, and enjoy together our accomplishments. That’s the path to success.
Ken Ripley is a resident of Spring Hope and The Enterprise’s editor and publisher emeritus.