Workable future requires discussion, compromise

Our government is, in the end, simply us.

Vacationing in the state of Oregon, you will marvel at the lush mountain forests, and the pristine desert and beach landscapes. That these resources were conserved by our predecessors was no accident. Government there has long preserved natural resources and the public's right to access them. In the 1970s, an Oregon farmer and Republican state legislator, Hector McPherson, introduced legislation to halt the destruction of farmland by sprawling cities. He sought support from all political parties and proceeded to negotiate a guide to future state growth in the most responsible, efficient way possible. The result today is that the rural, pastoral, rugged Oregon still exists to be experienced by future generations even as modern cities grow by in-filling space within the growth boundaries. There are vocal anti-government critics, many funded by corporate and speculative interests, who even now challenge those land-use laws. But the business and public benefits of land-use laws are many. Property values are stabilized when plans protect properties from inappropriate neighboring development. Farmland is conserved when urban growth is concentrated within urban boundaries. Closer to their markets, farmers save transportation costs while the air is kept cleaner, fuel is saved and fresher food arrives on the table. People can bike or walk to work and shopping. Those plans were negotiated in a day when Republicans not only discussed issues with their opponents, but openly compromised with them. Governments faced major problems. Opposing sides worked together crafting big solutions. At that time, people hadn't yet talked themselves into hating their own government. Can we agree that today's world cannot be described as "simple?" As the world has evolved through the decades, our government has grown more complex, necessarily so, to meet the ceaseless stream of crises that define our modern, anything-but-simple, civilization. Our government is, in the end, simply us. Coming together to discuss issues and possible solutions is the only hope that we have for our common American future. How can a "patriot" hate the very institutions of government created by the Constitution?

A little less anger and a little more thought, please.

Larry Bollinger is retired from broadcasting and loves his grandsons. Reach him at

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