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Paul Turner: Maybe Spokane is a place where tolerance returns to politics

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

You think of yourself as a fair-minded person, right?

Sure. Well, here’s a question for you.

Has our national political rancor become so poisonous, so toxic that you simply cannot tolerate individuals who disagree with you about partisan positions on public policy issues – even in situations that arguably have little or nothing to do with politics?

If you live in Spokane, you could be an interesting test case. You live in a deep blue state, right next to a dark red state. You might even be in a geographically mixed marriage.

Might you be a role model for a nation bitterly divided? Are you a bellwether? A canary in a coal mine?

So what do you do? Do you try to get along with everybody or do you dig your heels in deeper and demand political purity of all those with whom you have dealings?

If you aren’t really sure how to rate yourself, there’s a way to find out.

Take this quick Yes/No quiz. Keep track of your tally. Then check your results at the end.

If you play shortstop on your softball team and you learned the person playing second base did not share any of your views about the president, would you still be able to cooperate on turning a double-play?

If you saw in your neighbor’s yard a campaign sign touting a candidate for Congress that you loathe with every fiber of your being, would you still let that family’s preschool children play with your own youngsters?

If someone who was going to do some work at your house pulled up in a truck sporting window stickers that expressed the opposite of your views on gun control, would you be able to accept it as free speech (or would you inform him that you were going to find another contractor)?

If a stranger was standing by a car pulled over to the side of a remote road, would you try to offer assistance even if that vehicle was adorned with bumper-stickers that mocked your own political views?

If you were playing bridge and learned that your partner held wildly different attitudes about every conceivable public policy issue, would you still cooperate and try to win?

If you discovered that someone you just met rooted for the same distant NFL team as you, would you still be a fan of that team even though this person shared none of your political views?

If you were out for a stroll and encountered someone walking her pet, would you go ahead and declare the appealing animal to be a “Good dog” even before finding out how its owner voted?

If your politically polarized uncle was driving you crazy with his online rants (none of which you agreed with), would you always try to remember what your mother said about how he protected her from their stepfather long ago?

If a member of your bowling team votes for candidates who usually strike you as lying half-wits, would you manage to ignore that because he happens to be the best bowler on your team?

If your 8-year-old daughter’s hockey coach happened to mention having made a financial donation to a public cause you do not support, would you inform him of how you feel about that issue and then tell him you admire how fair he has been about giving all the girls a chance to play on the first line?

If someone in your carpool offers a dissenting opinion about an election, do you try to remember not to freak out?

When someone who is a member of your own political party says something patently false or simply ridiculous, do you clear your throat and then speak up?

Rate Yourself

Answered “Yes” to all 12 questions: It could be argued that you are part of the solution.

Answered “Yes” to most of the questions: Well, you are trying to maintain perspective.

Answered “No” to most of the questions: What’s it like to always be right?

Answered “No” to all of the questions: You are a part of the problem.


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