Seek Common Ground

To the Editor,

I see the same facts as Michael Riordan, (front page, January 2017) but come away with a much different lesson. Based on the numbers in the same issue of Whatcom Watch, 37 percent of voters in Whatcom County alone voted for Mr. Trump. Rather than ignoring over a third of the voters in our county to create an evergreen utopia, perhaps we could learn something by actually listening to them?

I am trying to do that. One thing I have heard is that many conservatives voted for Mr. Trump in spite of his “intolerant, misogynistic” statements, not because of them. Mr. Trump offered an alternate path to people who have not shared in the benefits of the cyber, green, service economy, one that can pretend it does not run on fossil fuels.

The “flyover states” of middle America have seen well-meaning policies, crafted in places with sidewalks and gutters, misfire when applied to places marked by wire fence and irrigation ditch. The current rural water crisis in Whatcom County itself is an example of a problem that affects all our residents and our inter-linked economy. There are practical alternatives, some as suggested by Satpal Sidhu in the Dec. 4, 2016 issue of The Bellingham Herald, but solutions will take conversation, respectfully heard and considered, and compromise to find them.

Somewhere in the rhetoric on both sides of the divide, there is common ground. The emphasis of environmental policy on preserving pristine environments overlooks the origins of the some of the nation’s most important laws. The first water quality standards were adopted to keep people traveling by rail from getting sick on the water drawn from a water source unfamiliar to the traveling public. No one wants their children and grandchildren to be developmentally delayed or to be sickened because of pollution. Everyone wants healthy salmon stocks to return to our rivers.

This is a time to listen rather than raising “a big middle finger to Middle America.”

Meg Hayes

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