Symptoms of a greater illness
When I first heard what Mr. Blaiser suggested putting in a press release regarding shooting his fellow townsmen, I was alarmed, but not surprised. Mr. Blaiser makes his politics no secret. I have seen him about town, dressed in his political garb and very opinionated when it comes to his worldview. While I appreciate individuals that disagree with me politically, I can not appreciate what Mr. Blaiser said, and I question my appreciation of the man himself. He defends his comments by saying this was a “failed attempt at humor,” but it was not a crass, off-the-cuff joke with friends over a few beers, but rather an on-the-record, prepared statement from an elected official during a government meeting. His statements suggesting that his fellow community members and Yoopers would throw things at the police, shoot others, and cause general chaos not only show his lack of trust in his constituents, but also serves as a microcosm of the political culture in this country.
Mr. Blasier’s comments appear to show that he does not view these peaceful protests as American patriots striving to make their country a safer place for all of its citizens, but rather opportunistic, violent thugs looking to sow mayhem. This is a reflection of the divisive turn our political culture has taken in recent decades and is indicative of a trajectory this country has been on.
Identity politics is defined by Merriam-Webster as the following: “politics in which groups of people having a particular racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group.” While identity politics can be and have been used to give minorities, whether from a specific race or social class, a platform to fight injustices, the concept has been undeniably manipulated by the media and politicians to gain political power in this country. Many times, this leads to what I like to call a siege mentality, meaning a thought process based around the idea that one’s culture, race, or ethnicity is perpetually under attack. As Mr. Blasier shows with his remarks, this siege mentality often results in inflammatory and violent rhetoric. It seems Mr. Blaiser does not see these protests as civil discourse, but rather an attack on his politics, and therefore, himself.
I ask my fellow Delta County residents to not give into the allure that the ‘us vs. them’ mentality can provide. Rather, seek disagreement. Have a polite conversation with a neighbor or family member who sees things differently than you and try to see it from their perspective. Disagreement is healthy in politics. Giving into our fears is easy, but discourse can be hard sometimes. However, JFK says it best: “We choose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” It will be hard, but I know we Americans are up to the challenge.
Maxton Lee Lund