By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Bladine: It shouldn't matter who's the president

Taking a four-week hiatus from this column — my first in 46 years — was easier than anticipated. After initial withdrawal symptoms, I learned life will be just fine when time comes to break the habit altogether.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

Meanwhile, back to the computer for now, my heartfelt thanks to Fred Fawcett, Erma Vasquez, Rick Olson and Cassie Sollars for providing August Whatchamacolumns. Their commentaries were not just replacements, but enhancements to this space.

It wasn’t a work-free vacation — some habits are harder to break than others. But I had more time for another long-term addiction: exploring local, state and national politics.

I watched the Democratic and Republican National Conventions; dove into controversies over Oregon and federal unemployment benefits; read and watched reports about the social justice movement and resulting backlashes; and investigated the well-organized local movement by “conservatives” to rid Yamhill County and McMinnville governments of “progressives.”

Needless to say, that excess of ingredients didn’t produce a simple recipe for palatable politics. If anything, it confirmed what we all see: At every level, America has embraced a dangerous duality.

We identify as Republicans or Democrats; conservatives or progressives; watchers of CNN or Fox News. We build walls and circle the wagons, both literally and figuratively. Nonpartisan collaborations dissolve into politics motivated by hatred of others.

We can’t agree on the severity of individual and collective problems, making it near-impossible to solve them. We can’t even agree on facts, giving rise to lazy but viciously effective claims of “fake news.”

Yet, behind it all, we have a democracy in which citizens can elect capable, independent leaders. We have a free marketplace that encourages and rewards entrepreneurship. While working through a lengthy evolution from our violent, racist, intolerant history, we slowly enrich our underlying humanity toward each other.

The Preamble to our Constitution still begins, “We the people of the United States.” That simple phrase establishes the power, the responsibility and the accountability to do what’s right.

As with all finger-pointing, politically wagging one digit at others ignores those three fingers directed back at yourself. Citizens vote; elected officials govern by majority rules; and those rules allow a free citizenry to fashion local, state and federal governments that work for “we the people.”

And so, five weeks removed from my last column, I came up with just one single thought: It shouldn’t matter who is elected president.

It shouldn’t, but of course in 2020, it does.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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