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Guest Opinion: Civility before, during and after election day

By Johnathan Hladik

Discussion and debate has always been a part of rural America.

From coffee shops to the local co-op, rural residents aren’t afraid to show their loyalty for one candidate or another, share their thoughts on the issues of the day, and voice their distrust of the government. Sometimes opinions can spur disagreement and raise tensions. But, in the end, most of us will agree to disagree, shake hands, and go about our day.

Lately, this seems to have changed. The divisive politics of Washington have made their way to our Main Streets. This “us versus them” mentality has damaged relationships, harmed businesses, and affected our children.

While technological advances have brought the world together in ways our forefathers never imagined, those same changes have also torn us apart. Showing support for a candidate or issue on social media is often met with personal attacks. This will only accelerate as the Nov. 3 general election draws near.

Rural America is better than this. Here, neighbors help neighbors in good times and bad, band together for school and civic events and have lively discussions about the news of the day that always end with plans to meet again tomorrow. This sense of community is what rural America is all about.

Healthy debates and differing opinions aren’t wrong. But it is time to rise above the heated discourse. This is our chance to show the rest of America how to set aside differences and work together toward a strong and vibrant community.

Johnathan Hladik is policy director for the Center for Rural Affairs.

FOR MORE COLUMNS AND LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, CHECK OUT OUR OPINION SECTION HERE.

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