Tracy Mayor Pro Tem Brent Ives might be in the middle of a nonpartisan mayoral race, but, for a brief moment, his political colors showed Tuesday night.
Addressing a meeting of the South San Joaquin County Republicans that ostensibly met to rally support for U.S. Marine Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, who is under suspicion of allegedly murdering an Iraqi civilian, Ives told the audience at Chez Shari restaurant in Manteca that “It makes common sense to be a Republican.”
It struck me as an incautious statement for a mayoral candidate faced a community fractured by not only red and blue politics, but also by the issue of two controversial developer deals. I was also disappointed, thinking that a local politician had fallen into a national trend of blind partisanship.
So I telephoned Ives on Thursday to find out what he meant and to hopefully clear the air.
He told me that for him, personally, it does make sense to be a Republican — he wouldn’t call himself a Republican if the ideology didn’t make sense in his mind. But he also said that partisan labels shouldn’t stand in the way of bringing the community together to chart the area’s future. Ives stressed inclusiveness and a vision for the future that could bring Tracy — and the rest of the south county — onto common ground.
I like to think that his conversation with me and not the sound bite the other night expresses his true opinion, because at a time like this, we could use a lot more inclusiveness.
The United States is split in two. Infographics everywhere flash blue on the coasts and red everywhere else. Congress is increasingly controlled by more extreme factions of either party, and what passes for debate is politicians yelling beyond instead of talking to one another. The treasured middle ground of American politics is being overcome by a flood of partisan posturing characterized by statements that make it sound as if only one party is on the side of right and the other is on the side of wrong.
It’s nonsense that overlooks the common ground where liberals and conservatives can build a foundation of compromise.
Democrats and Republicans aren’t irreconcilably different. Liberals and conservatives alike want better schools, a safer society, better transportation, clean air, clean water, the ability to provide for a family, the opportunity to succeed and the freedom to complain when our government screws up.
The current climate doesn’t allow a politician to recognize this. Reason has lately been replaced by rhetoric in our nation’s politics. As a result, democracy suffers.
Blind partisan attitudes are the reason America’s voters have to deal with nightly “Republicans are evil,” “Democrats are spineless,” tirades on cable TV news. These tirades overlook finding solutions to issues in favor of scoring political points.
Tracy’s political races also have a contentious history, and while seasoned Tracy residents say this campaign season is relatively begnin, there’s still plenty of vitriol to go around. It flows between supporters and opponents of House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and there’s no love lost between the backers and detractors of Tracy’s proposed developer deals. Too often, the shouting has drowned out reasoned discussion regarding very important local issues.
Differences in policy and opinion are part of Tracy’s lively political atmosphere, intense squabbles included. But Tracy is at its strongest when its citizens work together, putting aside labels and dealing with issues. This city needs its leaders on both sides of the aisle who are willing to shelve shallow partisanship and divisiveness in the name of cooperation and inclusiveness.
It’s only common sense.
• Jon Mendelson is a copy editor at the Tracy Press. To contact him about his weekly column, call 830-4265 or e-mail email@example.com.