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Kalivianakis: Aggressive politics are infecting our small towns


Most people enjoy the simple, friendly, neighborhood charm that comes with living in a small town. Part of the appeal is that small-town governments are deliberately non-partisan because the issues that come before them are generally not political in nature. Public safety, fire protection, roads/sidewalks, lights and signage, parks, schools, etc. are all nonpartisan. 

Unfortunately, bellicose politics is infecting our small-town government, and it’s very troubling. We all know how contentious politics has become. Watch the news, listen to talk radio or political ads; it’s ugly and in many cases, personal and vicious. It’s off-putting and makes us question the character of anyone who revels in it. 

Politics interferes with our ability to live life well. It doesn’t just make the world around us worse; it makes us worse. Politics can make us petty, short-sighted, tribal, selfish and divisive. It discourages reason and respect and a basic appreciation of the intelligence and dignity of others, especially those with differing views than our own. Politics encourages extreme reactions instead of reasonable discussion and rational thought. 

I am not naïve. I realize that on state, national and international stages, politics is a necessary evil. Politicians at those levels must debate topics that are both highly volatile and political in nature. That is a given. Fortunately, small towns are generally exempt from those naturally contentious issues. If you look at the list above, improving and maintaining infrastructure should not be fodder for political rancor unless bad actors make it so. It’s a deliberative process where our town’s leadership should reflect our citizens’ priorities.

We know that many hands make light work. If we respect each other, act reasonably and work together, we can achieve great things. We can accomplish ambitious projects and pursue positive, productive goals for our town’s future.

Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.