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  1. The Obama Speech and Issue of Common Ground

    To all my colleagues and friends in Ferndale

    I hope you have all had access to the Obama speech in Illinois today. It may well be the most important and articulate speech in recent memory. It seems to me that Obama just threw down the gauntlet to support science, good and rational policies for infrastructure support and speaking up, and out, in the face of misinformation and uninformed rhetoric. I take Mr. Obama’s message as the call to be responsible, not afraid to stand up to demagogues whether they are local, or regional or national and confront them when they lie or distort information or data they prove they don’t understand, but repeat anyway because it sounds interesting or good.

    We are all complicit in this dilemma. For instance, using social media irresponsibly has contributed fundamentally to a toxic forum for discussion, and many of us on both sides of the political discourse are guilty of it.

    I hope we all harken to his messages that emphasize the importance of acting with a vision of the future that pushes back against fear, false data and purposeful distortion of issues, threats and purported “opportunities”. There are those who live among us who advertise their truculent pushback to these messages, and we still see their signs on lawns, fences and windows. My guess is that we win the country back by advertising or highlighting the real opportunities and challenges ahead, and not through the embrace of sales pitches that rely on fear and misunderstanding no matter where they originate.

    In my own political life it was always important to draw these lines, and then stand by them, and act – literally turn out to vote for people who are responsible, and honest candidates who vote independently, not slavishly, for the right side of an issue. That probably means supporting those among us who are classic populists, those who can see and support the rational middle. This is a time to push back against belligerent, uninformed bullies. time to draw a line, and be able to say, I believe in an inclusive and informed community. We won’t get there without introspection and careful, thoughtful restatement, re-tweeting of messages or information we have heard, but not examined critically. There is a message to Mr. Trump and his acolytes but it doesn’t have to be asserted solely in a speech or a sign. It is simply I will be responsible about what I say, I will be critical of what I read whether it comes from the “right” or the “left”. I won’t take what is published, whispered or repeated for granted.

    The collective response to bullies is to understand what they are trying to do, examine that carefully and be prepared to respond with care and reason. A good message to people like Trump who advance their cause by hate and misogyny is to stand and deliver. Literally, draw when you’re ready. I am.

    Michal C. Moore, PhD