Editorial: Modeling respect through the turmoil

Posted 6/4/20

This editorial was meant to congratulate the winners of the 2020 primary election, but many of the Taos County races were not yet decided when this went to press Wednesday evening due to the …

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Editorial: Modeling respect through the turmoil

Posted

This editorial was meant to congratulate the winners of the 2020 primary election, but many of the Taos County races were not yet decided when this went to press Wednesday evening due to the unprecedented number of absentee ballots.

Instead, this is a good time to take a step back and look at the campaigns leading up to election day and at how they reflect something larger about Taos.

By and large, the campaigns were respectful, even among candidates who were known not to like each other in person. While behind closed doors they might have gone after each other with a vengeance, in online public forums hosted by the Taos Democratic Party, the candidates were polite, even when they disagreed with each other.

This kind of respect, between politicians of different parties, between candidates in contested races, between people on all sides of the political spectrum, is desperately needed right now.

Taos County residents, who disagree vehemently with each other about some issues - from abortion to gun rights - nonetheless remain largely respectful even when they protest.

In return, Taos law enforcement seemed to respect the right of citizens to peaceably (if not quietly) gather to protest. Peaceable protest is an American birthright, and one that no government and no president should take away or threaten.

Witness the crowds of up to a few hundred people who turned out to protest in downtown Taos over the last few days. (Granted, they weren't practicing social distancing, but most were wearing masks.) Even when they lay in the road for nearly nine minutes - representing the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer held a knee on George Floyd's neck until he died - police did not interfere.

What Taos protestors have done is stay focused on the issue at hand - the need for justice, the need for a reckoning with racism, in all of its forms. It is right that they should protest, seeking always to build a United States that lives up to its democratic ideal.

What Taos law enforcement has done is ensure no one is hurt while protesting but they have not prevented the action with more extreme measures as has happened in other cities.

Protestors and law enforcement showed respect for each other.

Taos has long been a town of mixed cultures, mixed religions, mixed faiths, mixed political beliefs. In this diversity is its beauty. Its ability to accept others for who they are is Taos' grace.

As the nation and even the state wrestles through tumultuous times, with some fearing the divisions will truly and finally undercut our very foundations, tiny Taos can be the model:

For how to help each other through the worst of times.

For how to protect our right to disagree.

For how to work toward justice for all, while respecting our differences.

For how to choose our leaders wisely and then expect them to act wisely.

By Wednesday night or Thursday morning, Taos County will know the names of some of its new leaders.

May they do well and serve well as public servants through this uncertain time.

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