Local political experts: Differences in discourse may be hard to overcome | News, Sports, Jobs


Courtesy Photos Yard signs promoting candidates Cam Cavitt and Marie Fielder for State Rep. stand in the yards of the people of the Alpena area. The two candidates will fight for the right to represent the Lansing area in November.

ALPENA – Finding a way to transcend differences in political discourse and unite those who hold different opinions is easier said than done and won’t happen overnight, local policy experts say.

From abortion to guns to the environment and education, opinions differ on many issues. In some cases, people refuse to consider the thoughts, concerns, and ideas of those with opposing views, which can lead to confrontations, including physical attacks or personal attacks on social media.

Tim Kühnlein, an associate professor of political science and history at Alpena Community College, said the country’s diversity is a good thing, but it also sets the stage for political unrest. He said he believes that is the case now; as it was at other times in history.

“While diversity is a strength of the American experience, it is also exploited for political reasons at various turning points in US history in the struggle for values, and those values ​​dominate our system,” he said. “Especially when people feel like they’re being pushed against a wall or threatened in some way to their core. It undoubtedly has everything to do with philosophical differences, about how things should be, and about resources, values, power and opportunity, etc. that are based on our differences.”

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Doris Feys, the president of the League of Women Voters of Northeast Michigan, said she’s never seen such a hot political climate in more than 30 years of working and reporting on elections. She said people need to come together and develop understanding and acceptance of each other’s political beliefs, but she’s not sure how to do that and fears the political climate will continue to worsen.

“There is a lack of civil discourse that I hope is not the norm,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in the last two years and I’m worried about our democracy. I’m worried about our country.

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It has never been unusual for people to discuss or debate politics. But in some cases, political rhetoric can damage relationships and potentially lead to violence.

On Saturday, a candidate for the school board at Alpena Public Schools had an altercation with a man in Mich-e-ke-wis Park.

Video appears to show candidate George Pena putting his hands near the neck of a man who claims he questioned the legality of a political event in the public park.

A witness said the man, John La Cross of Alpena, initiated the physical confrontation by first pushing Pena.

The News has filed a FOIA request with the Alpena Police Department for a copy of the police report.

Kuehnlein said it’s important to get people involved in political events, but the more people involved, the greater the likelihood of conflict and negative outcomes.

“The increased discourse can be good if everyone keeps their cool and pays attention to self-discipline, personal responsibility, mutual respect – politeness, working towards common solutions,” he said. “But history shows that hyperbolic involvement can often be a slippery slope for an overstimulated system imploding in on itself.”


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