Grande: It can work, let's try

Bette Grande online photo
Bette Grande

Differences do not have to lead to division, yet in the world we live in today even a slight difference too often leads to sharp division. It does not have to be this way. I worked as an election judge for the June primary election in North Dakota. For those unfamiliar with the process, there are usually an equal number of Democrats and Republicans working together to make sure the voting process is fair and open.

Because the election was conducted by mail-in ballot only, there was a lot of work to do and everyone I was working with was friendly and diligent as we processed the ballots. There was casual conversation as we worked, separated by 6 feet or more, each of us Democrat and Republican felt our only duty was to ensure that every voter had their vote counted. It worked.

But as we worked together, holed up in windowless rooms in a local hotel, the divisions in our country were getting deeper and deeper. There are far more questions than answers these days. And there is fear, a lot of fear that only seems to grow with each new issue we face as individuals, groups and a nation. Will schools open in the fall? Will the economy recover? What will our lives be like in three or six months? A year?


Experts say that fear is the greatest motivator. There is a lot of fear and anxiety today, you see it on people’s faces, and you hear it in voices. (Just try saying "excuse me" or "hello" as we did in the past, North Dakota friendly, the response is a blank stare) Fear and anxiety may motivate, but they do not always lead to the best decision making.
Things are happening so fast in this country and around the world, decisions are being made more out of the need to do something than the understanding of what should be done. Fueled by social media, our elected representatives make decisions in order to do something, often without the facts required to make good decisions.


We lived in a divided country before the virus showed up, and the virus is now one more thing that divides us. It is not just red versus blue, it is masks versus no-mask, it is re-open the economy versus quarantine. On and on.

And now we add protests over race and the police, books, movies, statues, and our history.

Where does this lead? What does it accomplish? How does this end? Gone with the wind?

For a short period of time a small group of people with different ideas, different opinions, different solutions, worked together in a small county in this country to ensure that the right to vote was respected. One small, simple, but important example that it can still happen. We can set aside differences for the common good. We can get along.

I would not count on our elected representatives to come up with the answers. It is up to us. Let each one of us find the common ground. To be just, fair, friendly. Let us love one another as we love ourselves as the first step to healing the divisions.

Opinion by Bette Grande
Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is CEO of the Roughrider Policy Center, an "innovation over regulation" think tank. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own.
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