Speaking Up

Editorials

76

Those of us that have been labeled and neatly deposited in the “Liberal Media” bucket have been nervously awaiting the many possible implications of the New Presidency. Our newly elected is very different from prior modern-day Presidents in many ways. Of course, many say different can be a good thing, based on the performance of those predecessors and we have no argument with that position.

However, alarming to many, including some of you we are sure, is the form and substance of political expression of late. It’s loud, in your face, rude and just over-the-top by about any definition. The overwhelming assumption is if you don’t agree with the statement by me or my group, you are just wrong and most probably, an idiot and are obviously one of “those”, which can be either a ‘liberal snowflake’ or ‘conservative nut job,’ depending on your stance. When did friendly discourse and common ground disappear? For those that think we may be overly sensitive and thin skinned, you do realize this is being written by the Publisher and Editor, right? Thick skin is a job requirement in our office. Trust us.

The surprise to pollsters during the campaign and observers of politics today is the anger and frustration apparent within “The Forgotten Americans.” Combine this attitude that has become empowered by the election of the President with the wild and wooly world of blogs, posts and social media – all available to anyone with an opinion and a smartphone, and we have a lot of “sturm und drang.” To us all this bluster, with and without facts, seems to be pouring fuel to a dumpster fire of existing discontent.

So our thoughts are within this setting. How will our leaders get anything done? It takes collaboration to really make meaningful and effective change. We offer no solutions today. We do recommend keeping tabs on our elected officials and remember how they vote and not just talk, on our important issues. The vote is our most powerful tool in getting the leadership we want. Yield yours wisely.

 

All Politics are Local

Which brings us to our version of “All Politics are Local” perspective for today. An election is coming to our little corner of paradise. The Fort Myers Beach Town Council election is coming fast in March for three seats. With a five member Council, three seats up for election can change everything!  (We’re not just pretty faces, we can do math too!)

Our head slapping realization recently is that the same behavior issues mentioned above on the national stage have trickled down to our town! Some questions at a recent Candidate Forum were embarrassingly rude and full of inaccurate accusations!

Letters to the Editor are coming in fast and furious. Most are full of exuberance as to why voters should select their favorite candidate. However, some of them are embarrassingly rude and full of inaccurate accusations. Which we will not print during campaign season or any other time.

Daniel Moynihan once said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

Our Submissions Policy is published every week on the Editorial page. It does not change for campaign season. If you feel constrained under this policy and want to vent your angst with half truths and outright lies, feel free to send your letters elsewhere. The Right to Free Speech says that the government cannot limit your speech. It does not require the owners of a privately held publication to print everything sent to them.

Some have accused us in the past of being boring and not stirring up enough dust (for their entertainment we are sure). Others have indicated we are divisive; sometimes both in the same week. We take this to mean we must be somewhere in the middle – a good position to be in, we think. From that position we strive to report the local news in the fairest manner we know.

So here are our thoughts about all this over the next few weeks. Let’s all take a deep breath and dial it down a bit, OK?

Let’s try to talk less, and listen and read more, including opinions that differ from yours. We should all step out of our own echo chambers and broaden our knowledge a bit. Consider the possibility that the other side, whether on the national stage or right here on our island, may have some good points to consider. Abusing your opposition is not the only way to make your point and have an impact. One of our concerns is that we know many good citizens who are sensitive and slow to speak up, other than with their vote. They are discouraged from speaking out by the rude and super aggressive. Candidates and voters should want to hear from as many voters as possible and not just the loudest voices in the room.

We believe that this current attitude and rude, aggressive in-your-face behavior is not helping our nation or our community and its election process. It’s doing just the opposite by discouraging many voters from speaking up and many potential candidates from even stepping up. And that hurts our entire community because we lose the possibility of benefitting from the wisdom of some of our best citizens because they won’t expose themselves to the public flogging that campaigning can be. It can and does happen right here on our little island.

Think differently? Check the Submissions Policy, and send us a letter. It does not matter whether we agree or not, it will be printed if it meets the basic guidelines.

 

Missy Layfield
Editor

Bob Layfield
Publisher