A Washington Post news analysis published Tuesday noted a common thread between two otherwise disparate presidential hopefuls — GOP frontrunner and billionaire businessman Donald Trump and surging Democratic hopeful and self-proclaimed democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Both men, the Post proclaims, have embraced the so-called “mantle of anger.” In fact, the analysis goes on to say, both men have used the frustration and anger of the American electorate to fuel their campaigns.
Apparently, that anger and frustration is quite real.
Results from a new Rasmussen Reports national poll released last week finds that 67 percent of likely U.S. voters — that’s two out of every three voters — are angry at the current policies of the federal government, including 38 percent who are “very angry.” That compares to just 30 percent who say they are not angry at the policies, including only 9 percent who are “not at all angry.”
We mention this for two reasons. First, next week, Iowans will caucus, thus officially kicking off the process that will select the nominees for the major political parties and will lead to the election of our next president. And second, within the past week, two candidates — Faribault Mayor John Jasinski, and Bev Cashman, a DFLer — announced their intents to challenge incumbent legislators Sen. Vicki Jensen and Rep. John Petersburg, respectively, thus setting the electoral process in motion on a local level.
Other than the electoral process itself, what do these two things have in common with one another, and how are they connected to the anger of the voters?
Here’s the connection: There is little doubt that there is a frustrated electorate here in Steele County as well. We’ve seen in past elections, including the most recent school bond referendum in Owatonna, as well as in the letters to the editors those elections have generated. And we fully expect that some of that frustration will be voiced by voters this election cycle.
That being said, we seriously doubt that the candidates who have thrown or will throw their hats in the electoral ring, either for re-election or to oppose an incumbent, will play upon that frustration or embrace the mantle of anger that national seem so willing to do. If past elections here are any indication, then this upcoming local election cycle will be one marked by civility.
And why? Because the ladies and gentlemen running for office are more than just opponents in an election. They are also fellow citizens, neighbors and in some cases, friends. That kind of connection breeds civility.
Former Speaker of the House Thomas J. “Tip” O’Neill was often quoted as saying, “All politics are local.” And perhaps that is the lesson that other politicians can take away from our local politicians: To treat their opponent in an election not as a target to be shot down, but as a neighbor in this republic in which we live.
If that were to happen in elections beyond the borders of Steele County, then perhaps — just perhaps — we would hear politicians talk about what they would do for this country rather than to sling mud against their opponents.
We can dream, can’t we?
Owatonna People’s Press editorials are the opinion of the Press editorial board, which consists of publisher/editor Julie Frazier and managing editor Jeffrey Jackson. Other editorials, columns, letters and cartoons appearing on this page are the opinions of the authors and artists and not necessarily the People’s Press.