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Editorial: House divided cannot stand

In the 1972 movie, “The Candidate,” a man helping Robert Redford’s character run for Senate quips, “We haven’t made many converts, but we’ve made a lot of undecideds.” The heated political clashes that dominate today’s headlines haven’t made many converts, either, but they have inspired a lot of unaffiliateds.

That is the country’s fastest-growing political label — unaffiliated.

Though they may consistently vote for a particular party, more and more people — especially young voters — prefer not to be identified with the Republican or Democrat party. People whose political thinking is neither extreme right nor extreme left find themselves in an uncomfortable middle that is under-represented and seldom heard. The middle is critical ground, though. If everyone gave in to the forces pulling voters to the extremes, the country would tear apart — exactly what the United States’ enemies would like to see happen. A house divided cannot stand.

To avert that, we can start by respecting each other’s views, by not labeling people as “deplorables” or “unhinged.” Name-calling is the easy way out. It takes courage to discuss differences on the issues face-to-face and admit you may not have all the answers.    

As a Fayetteville Observer editorial said recently: “More and more, those who inhabit the more centrist zones of liberal and conservative thinking are calling for a return to civility and a resurrection of that almost forgotten conception of politics as the art of compromise. That’s right — a political process in which both sides talk, negotiate and find agreement somewhere between their two positions.”

The answer is not to hate politics or turn away from civic discourse, but to push for responsible leadership — starting by voting in this fall’s elections. Early voting starts Wednesday and runs through Nov. 3 at three locations in Rowan County. All precinct polling places will be open on Election Day, Nov. 6.

Important local, legislative and congressional offices are on the ballot, as well as six constitutional amendments.

Candidates for the state House and Senate seats representing Rowan County will participate in a forum 6 p.m. Tuesday at Rowan Administration Offices, 130 W. Innes St. You’re invited, and you can email questions for the candidates to editor@salisburypost.com.

In “The Candidate,” Redford’s character wins the election, only to turn to his manager and ask, “What do we do now?” The fictional story ends there. In the real world, though, our story goes on, and only we can pull the country back from being dangerously divided.

Don’t give up on politics; make sure your voice is heard. Vote.

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