Political pundits tell us there are 13 battleground states that will decide whether Trump or Biden is our next president. Wisconsin is one of those. It makes sense, then, that the majority of letters we’re receiving these days stump for or against presidential candidates.
I addressed our letters in this column last month. It obviously bears repeating, given the number of comments we receive about our Perspectives pages.
We do not solicit the letters on these pages.
We do not write the letters on these pages.
The opinions on these pages do not reflect my views (with the exception of this column) or those of the Peninsula Pulse or those of Peninsula Publishing & Distribution.
Eighty-five percent of the letters we receive are published. The writers of the rest either can’t produce sources for claims, don’t give us their basic information or make libelous claims. So what you read is what we get. If the politics expressed don’t align with yours, that’s because people who hold differing views have taken the time to write.
We wish we received letters that represented all the beliefs and voices that exist within our communities. That way, everyone who reads our letters column would be able to find themselves represented here and feel a connection with their community and local newspaper. But we can’t force people to write, and though all are invited, not everyone attends.
One thing we’ve discovered during the past couple of months is that a majority of the letters we receive about national politics address the cult of personality rather than political objectives people would like to see achieved.
I know people have strong emotions about our current president. There seems to be no middle ground. And I think this is true of any personality that can’t be stuffed into one of society’s boxes. “An American President” is one of those boxes. Trump is loved because he doesn’t fit and hated because he doesn’t fit. Maybe you have to go back to our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, to find an American president so revered and reviled. Those who know far more about presidential history than I would know better.
I’m not trying to minimize the importance of the presidential office or a presidential election. We don’t only have personality conflicts with our presidents. Neither can those personalities be so neatly defined by my little metaphor about boxes.
I’m also proud to be part of a community where written engagement is the norm. But sometimes, after reading through all the letters for the week, I feel a bit deflated, as if I’ve been yelled at over and over again. For what it’s worth, maybe it’s better not to define against a negative. To tell us what you stand for, instead of what you stand against. Readers may actually be reached outside a particular echo chamber – and commonalities discovered – when differences aren’t drawn immediately like a line in the sand.