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Tue Apr 4, 2017, 01:50 AM

Letters from Boston: Trusting Our Neighbors

'The College Democrats of Suffolk University in Boston kindly asked me to come speak with them the other night.

They were awesome. Everything that makes one optimistic about our country’s future — they are hopeful and realistic. They embrace our diversity as our greatest strength. They are fearless and undaunted by the challenges we face — as people of this country; as people of this planet. And they see no division between the two.

A young man in the front row asked:
“What do you believe is the single biggest issue facing our nation?”

Good question. A flashing red light goes off inside my head. This is exactly the sort of question media consultants get paid lots of money to train their candidates never to answer.


Because in our trivial, zero-sum politics where fear of loss has (temporarily) replaced “future preference” as our national ethic, saying any issue is “number one” means all other issues are number two. And if everything else is number two, then any wag with a laptop and a troll farm today can tell every micro-targeted group in America that “their issue” isn’t your number one priority as a candidate.

I was never very good at taking advice from political consultants (see: repealing the death penalty, passing marriage equality, banning combat assault weapons, raising the gas tax, raising the minimum wage, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing renewable energy, making it possible for New American immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, etc).

An uncomfortable silence passes as I process all that had once been ingrained.

Then the truth comes out.

“Trust, or rather — lack of trust — is the single biggest issue we face as a people right now.”
Again, I pause. Not to process but to see the look in their eyes.

I don’t elaborate. For them, I don’t have to. They know.'>>>


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