A couple weeks back this column critiqued a “double truck” ad in the Coeur d’Alene Press written and paid for by a prominent local real estate executive, Chris Walsh, who owns Revolutionary Realty.
His firm caters in part to the “preppers,” those who seek out somewhat isolated property in northern Idaho where they build their homes, stockpile food and weapons and wait for Armageddon.
Walsh fired back and we each took another shot at the other, stereotyping the other, getting snarkier while getting close to the line, if not outright crossing it, of engaging in personal attack. I’ve long had a policy of not responding to comments on or attacks at my political musings, but also try not to engage in any sort of personal attack.
Something about Walsh’s passion as well as his still seeing Republican nominee Donald Trump as the only agent of needed change captured my attention.
So I sent him an e-mail suggesting we cease shooting and instead sit down over breakfast and listen to each other. I also apologized for the stereotyping as well as my snarky overtone. Walsh graciously accepted both the apology and the offer of breaking bread together.
We met for breakfast at the Elmer’s just off I-90 and Highway 95. We began by focusing on what we agreed upon. There was a surprising amount:
- We felt both political parties have been captured by their large contributors, have lost touch with their base and reflect the special interests, not the public interest.
- Both party caucuses in both houses of Congress are equally responsible for the gridlock that holds the nation’s capital in its thrall.
- Too many federal agencies are filled with too many folks who see preserving their jobs as their prime purpose, instead of providing the public with efficient, effective service.
- A systemic issue in the bureaucrats’ desire to preserve their jobs necessitates the writing of more and more regulations for them to interpret and administer.
- The best vehicle for really changing the D.C. culture would be the imposition of term limits on both our elected representatives and those in the civil service.
- Critical issues facing America and whomever becomes president are not being addressed, such as the looming bankruptcy of many of the nation’s pension funds, which all will look to our empty Treasury expecting a federal bailout which Congress will not be able to do.
- The Simpson/Bowles Commission on Restoring Fiscal Accountability to the nation’s finances by starting down a path of reducing spending and paying down debt is an unfortuate lost opportunity.
- Resource conversion is what brings new dollars into the economy, whether trees into 2 x 4’s, wheat into bread, minerals into metals and computers; and, while it is important to undertake more of these activities, it has to be done in an environmentally responsible way.
- An educated workforce is critical to the betterment of any state and Idaho has to do more in the arena of support for public education.
- The shrinking middle class does indeed subsidize the top tenth of 1% many of whom take full advantage of the numerous loopholes in the ungainly, overly complicated U.S. Tax Code, which has to be simplified.
- Health care costs more than ever while covering less than ever.
Where we still disagreed is Walsh’s belief that because Trump is the only outsider left in the race, and the public knows change is needed, therefore he is the one a citizen should vote for.
Even if elected (which seems more and more unlikely given the release of another embarrassing tape), Trump has alienated so many of the constituencies one has to work with in order to get things done he will be utterly impotent and unable to produce anything he has promised.
With all due respect, I told Walsh my conclusion was the Donald was not the man to lead us out of the wilderness and the slough of despair. We parted friends, both the better for having sat down and listened to each other with full respect to our free speech rights. We agreed to meet again.
I presented Walsh with a copy of my three books and I accepted his offer of a flying tour of north Idaho in his vintage Beech Bonanza. I divined that he well understood the old caution to flier’s: “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots. There are no old, bold pilots.”