Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his thoughts about the current ideological divide after the killing of Aaron Danielson in downtown Portland
There was a vastly mediocre movie made in 1998 called “Primary Colors,’’ starring John Travolta as presidential candidate Jack Stanton, who was by all accounts a caricature of Bill Clinton. For whatever reason, I watched it many times, which I watch a lot of movies many times so that shouldn’t be interpreted as a recommendation.
Kathy Bates played a character named Libby Holden, who was a supporter and self-proclaimed “dustbuster’’ of Stanton. Stanton and his team sent Libby on a fact-finding mission to dig up some dirt on his opponent. The mission was successful. Libby uncovered information that could derail the opponent’s campaign, but she pleaded with her own candidate not to go public with the information because of a moral and ethical objection.
“Our job is to make it clean,’’ Libby pleaded with Stanton. “Because if it’s clean, we win. Because our ideas are better.’’
I don’t remember ever telling you that my ideas are better than yours. I routinely share my ideas with you and I’ve always allowed others to share their own ideas. I’ve never had a sleepless night agonizing over my ability to change your mind about any of my ideas and I’ve tried to keep an open mind about yours. I can’t say it has happened often, but I think my mind has been changed on more than one occasion by someone sharing their viewpoint with me.
I don’t think many people will disagree with me that our country is currently mired in a point in time where the division of our ideas is as great as I’ve ever witnessed. I’m just 57 years old. I say “just’’ because our country has been around a lot longer than that. So, I don’t have the personal perspective to make claims about what happened before I was born, or more accurately, before I became aware. And, I’m pretty sure our country was pretty divided during the Civil War.
But, in my lifetime, this is as great a divide between ideas and ideology as I can remember. I’ve also always tried to be mindful that ideas are largely subjective. They’re influenced by personal experiences, environmental influences, anecdotal evidence and emotion. However, many go deeper than that. Many are rooted in faith and principles.
I struggle with this divide of ideas in our country, our region and our community. And, after Aaron Danielson was shot and killed in downtown Portland Saturday night, by all available information because he was wearing clothing that identified himself as a supporter of the Patriot Prayer organization, I am terrified of where our country is headed.
You all know where I stand. But for the record, let me tell you what my ideas are:
• We should honor our country
• We should respect the U.S. flag
• We should treat our president with respect, regardless of the race, gender or political ideology of whoever is in office
• We should respect the authority of law enforcement
• We should not commit crimes
• We should not harm other people, destroy their property or hinder their quality of life
• We should not restrict or threaten others who disagree with our ideas
• We should rely more on facts than emotions when forming our ideas
• We should have our individual rights provided by the U.S. Constitution protected and not threatened
• We should protect human life, both born and unborn
Those are not all of my ideas, but the list is a good start. To those of you who disagree with any of those ideas, I’m having a really difficult time believing that your ideas are better than mine and I think that is playing out right before our very eyes.
There have been protests, far from “peaceful,’’ essentially since the night of the 2016 presidential election. We get it, you don’t like the president. What has behaving like intolerant, spoiled, petulant children accomplished? You want him out of office but all you’ve done is wake up his base, increase his support and, in my opinion, make his re-election probable.
You want racial justice in this country? Almost all of us do, but has destroying our country with violence, crime and property damage done anything to achieve that goal?
By most assessments, that list of my ideas would classify me as having a conservative ideology. I’m proud to call myself a conservative. I wear the badge with honor. Call me a Karen. Call me Boomer. Refer to me as “get off my lawn’’ guy. None of those things will have any impact on me.
On the heels of the killing of Aaron Danielson, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler took turns blaming President Trump for the violence that is destroying downtown Portland and other cities around the country. That is absurdly ridiculous.
The violence that has ravaged downtown Portland has gone on for nearly 100 days and Brown and Wheeler have done virtually nothing to address the criminal activity that is taking place on a nightly basis. And let’s remember, this violence in Portland isn’t confined to just the days since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
Sadly, I see no end in sight. I doubt Danielson’s death is going to do anything but widen the great divide that exists. But, go ahead, keep doing what you’re doing. And, by all means, keep telling me your ideas are better than mine.