Terry McLaughlin: Can we find some common ground? | TheUnion.com

Terry McLaughlin: Can we find some common ground?

I am fortunate to enjoy the friendship of a woman with whom I disagree on almost every single political matter. Recently, she challenged me to explain what I support rather than complain about what I oppose. Her response to my reply: “You would be shocked at how much we are in agreement!”

While we may passionately differ on many issues, perhaps there is actually much more that we, as members of this community, actually have in common.

We would probably all agree that politics is hardly the sport of angels or saints. It is the rare and elusive politician who fulfills all promises, and we vote with the knowledge that we will never have a government that perfectly reflects our individual values. Perhaps one of the best examples of this is the ever-increasing national debt and deficits, which have grown under every administration for decades to the horror of most Americans regardless of party affiliation.

We all have to make decisions among imperfect choices and candidates, but guided by our conscience and beliefs we seek those who most align with our viewpoint when deciding what and whom we can and cannot support. I look for policies, not personalities, in making those decisions.

I believe that good things are easily destroyed, but not easily constructed. Today’s institutions are the products of centuries of thought and labor, and while creation of our collective assets such as peace, freedom, law, civility and security has been slow and laborious, I believe their potential destruction is quick and easy.

I believe that each person is responsible for their own place in society. Individuals should control their own destiny with as little interference as is reasonably possible, and government should be limited to doing for the people only those things they cannot do for themselves. Governmental power and resources should be kept as close to the people and with as much local discretion as possible.

Philosopher John Locke believed “we are captains of ourselves,” equal before the law. But he was tolerant of inequality in wealth, proposing that the right to property and the fruits of our own labor is the keystone of freedom. The government may improve your net worth with a check, but it cannot improve your self worth.

I believe that parents, not the government, are a child’s first and foremost educators. Tailoring teaching to meet students’ needs has the potential to lead to greater outcomes for all students. I support options such as home-schooling, career and technical education, private or parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools, on-line learning, and early college high schools, as well as financing mechanisms that make those options available to all children, including education savings accounts, vouchers and tuition tax credits.

I would like to see higher education options and models re-envisioned. Universities are a tool for highly skilled careers such as medicine and engineering, but there is a great need for expanded technical and vocational institutions, along with apprenticeships, business internships and other opportunities for hands-on learning that prepare a student for a career path.

I advocate taking the federal government out of originating student loans, as there appears to be a connection between escalating college costs and government involvement in financing.

As the child of an immigrant, I value the gifts, talents and diversity brought to our country through legal immigration. I believe that America’s immigration policy should serve the national interest of the United States, and the interests of American workers must be protected over the claims of foreign nationals seeking the same jobs.

I believe in the sanctity of all lives, and that regardless of race, creed, gender, ability or disability, we are all made by our creator and equal in his eyes. I recognize that abortion is a legal reality in the United States, so I support the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, abortion clinic safety regulations, and realistic and humane restrictions such as a ban on abortion based on sex or disability, or after 20 weeks gestation, when babies can feel pain; a ban on dismemberment abortion and the sale of embryonic body parts; a ban on human cloning; and a ban on the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion. I support expanded adult stem cell research.

I oppose Title IX being used to allow biological men who identify as female to compete in women’s sports. Biological men have a clear advantage over women in athletics, who will suffer the loss of opportunities and benefits such as scholarships.

I believe that parents have the right to determine medical treatment and/or therapy for minor children, particularly in the realm of chemical or surgical treatments that can permanently alter a child’s physiology.

I support First Amendment free speech rights for all, including those with whom I passionately disagree. I support the freedom to act in accordance with one’s religious beliefs, and the right to follow one’s conscience in private and public life.

I believe health-care workers should not be forced to choose between following their faith and practicing their profession, nor should individuals, businesses or institutions of faith be forced to act in a manner that conflicts with their deeply held convictions.

I invite and encourage readers to submit their points of view on these specific issues in letters to this paper. Let’s try creating a civil conversation on these pages. Can we find some common ground?

Terry McLaughlin, who lives in Grass Valley, writes a twice monthly column for The Union. Write to her at terrymclaughlin2016@gmail.com.

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