Grassroots and Branches
Sean Strub’s tips for Living Together in a Polarized World
I recently exchanged emails with the highest profile progressive Democrat in Pike County, Milford Mayor Sean Strub. This is an edited version of his answer to the title of this blog.
“Milford Borough governance is not polarized at all compared to state and local politics. I've not seen partisanship enter the picture in any discussion or decision-making on the Council since I have been Mayor. If anyone tried, whether Republican or Democrat, I and others would quickly call them out.
I've chosen to be outspoken about my political opinions while modeling civility and respect, even when I engage with people who are abusive or nasty.
I urge friends involved in politics to also get involved in local endeavors that are not political. Put yourself in situations where you meet people with whom you might disagree politically, but where you can work together on a shared goal.
When some of my progressive friends used to say "I don't know anyone who voted for Donald Trump", my response was that they need to reflect on that and ask themselves whether living in ideological isolation is a good idea. There's a risk of living in an echo chamber, which limits the spread of ideas, opening of minds and finding common ground with others.
As Mayor, as head of the Milford Enhancement Committee, and on the boards of the Greater Pike Community Foundation and Pike Artworks, I routinely work with others with whom I disagree on a wide range of issues, not just Trump. Working together for those organizations enables us to get to know each other as people and helps build bridges that benefit the entire community.
I don't think we will bridge this great national divide because we have elected a new president. Leadership is important, but lasting change comes from the bottom up. We need to learn to live respectfully with people who have different beliefs, be open and continue to learn from others, and not get too smug thinking any one person or group has all the answers.”