The stormy season
Last updated 1/23/2024 at 9:30am
We’ve officially entered the stormy season — and we’re not talking about snow and ice and busted pipes. The season of storms that got underway in Iowa last week and New Hampshire this week will last through winter, spring, summer and fall. Many folks are looking forward to the 2024 election season with something approaching dread — not just at potential outcomes, but at having to endure months of nastiness as increasingly polarized Americans claw at each other on TV, on social media — and in newspapers.
How to manage political commentary in the current, highly contentious climate is a vexing question for us newspaper folk. On one hand, we want to encourage vigorous discourse in commentary and letters to the editor. On the other hand, we don’t want the commentary we publish to fray the social fabric of our community. After all, whoever wins the 2024 elections — from the sheriff’s office to the presidency, we’re all still going to be neighbors who need to live together in this place, and look out for each other when driveways need to be plowed and cars pulled out of snowbanks.
Some of our readers love the scrum; others would prefer not to read political commentary and letters at all. One of my dearest friends has suggested that The Nugget create a special section for political letters so he can pull it out and use it to start his wood stove. He was joking… I think?
Many of the letters we receive are thoughtful and well-argued. Some are … less so. My strong preference is to run all the letters we get; I want everyone’s voice to be heard. But let’s shoot for quality here as we roll into Decision 2024. Ask yourself this: Am I trying to persuade someone to a different point of view, or at least cause them to look at an issue in a different light? Or am I just venting? Or grandstanding? Arguing for persuasion is a lot more valuable.
You’re never going to persuade anyone that your point of view is right by insulting or taunting those you disagree with.
Argue hard. Argue well. But argue with substance, not just vitriol.
Thriller writer and commentator Barry Eisler put this perfectly: “Argue with others the way you’d like them to argue with you. Argue with intent to persuade. Argue with evidence and logic. That shouldn’t be so hard, should it? Let’s give it a try.”
Yep — let’s give it a try. I think Sisters can do it.
Editor in Chief