Newmann: We live in hope |

Newmann: We live in hope

Tom Newmann
Valley Voices

“Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.” — Steelers Wheels, 1972

Gosh, who knew that the lyrics of an old ’70s song could be so prophetically timeless? Left, right … stuck. So much for compromise, a position which lately seems to be precarious at best.

The squawking, the accusations and the recriminations by both sides are ramping up even more as The Big Day approaches.

The second great debate (one wonders if there ever was a first) turned into a side show of two competing “town halls.” So much for even a promise, however slight, of hearing the candidates face off on any issues. But, and don’t hold your breath, we’re promised another epic between the two next week. Lincoln and Douglas are spinning in their graves.

The all-encompassing virus remains a political football. One side gives it deadly credence; another says it will just go away. Not quite sure how that’s going to happen … after all, it did manage to find a bit of a toehold with the First Family. Some of the companies rushing to create an all-too-welcome vaccine have hit hitches and glitches. And masks, welcomed by one segment of our population, are still being denigrated by another. Meanwhile, the stats (if you believe them) show that the numbers are increasing. Dr. Fauci is spinning at his desk.

After a few days of confirmation hearings on a new Supreme Court associate justice, in which little (if anything) was really accomplished, one of the two warring parties declared victory and said it would hold a vote as soon as possible. The best part of the hearings was hearing a very intelligent and calm nominee answer virtually every question by saying that she couldn’t answer the question. John Marshall, in some far-off place, rolls his eyes.

Negotiations (using that word loosely) on a stimulus package are on hold until after the election. Not that anyone really needs help. The folks in Washington all have guaranteed jobs (at least until Nov. 3) with health insurance and pensions thrown into the bargain. So maybe there’s really no urgency to throw out any lifelines to those who actually may be in dire need. Mother Theresa sheds a tear or two.

You can, of course, draw up many more instances of these “family feuds” without having to think very hard. The polarity that currently exists in so many realms is mind-boggling. No give, no take, no compromise (“Trying to make some sense of it all, but I can see that it makes no sense at all,” as the song later laments).

But, wait, there is hope!

There is a place where you can witness some of the most rational and sensible aspects of human behavior. Just take a quick glance (that’s all it takes) at the yard of your local preschool. There, little kids actually understand how to get along, how to have fun together — and, get this, even how to share their toys. The spirit of compromise … still alive and well.

Lincoln is smiling, with pride, at these little guys.

Tom Newmann splits his time between Beaver Creek and Queenstown, New Zealand. He has been going winter-to-winter since 1986. He was also a journalist in Missoula, Montana, at the Missoulian for quite a few years. Email him at

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