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As my siblings and I became more interested and engrossed in politics growing up, my father always tried to impress on us the importance of understanding the political/ethical/economic/social views of others. Regardless of our point of view, he urged us to listen and try to understand those views that were different from our own. Not only does this allow for greater respect between people of different ideas, it also better prepares a person to counteract ideas or views with which they don’t agree.

On our way back from the coast on Saturday in bumper-to-bumper traffic just outside Charleston, I saw a billboard that not only made me laugh out loud, but also summed up this year’s election better than any political commentary I have heard or read. Some clever realtor put up a picture of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, with a banner that read, “Moving to Canada? We can help you sell your home.”

It’s about 855 miles between the quiet mountain town of Waynesville, North Carolina and the urban hustle and bustle of Havana, Cuba. 

SEE ALSO:
• An Artist’s Visit to Cuba
• Discussion to focus on Cuba

And yet, when painter Christopher Holt opens up his portfolio one recent morning at Panacea Coffeehouse in the Frog Level district of Waynesville, that distance gets a lot shorter. One-by-one, Holt leafs through dozens of his watercolor and oil paintings, all of which depict the vibrant sounds, scents and sights of the foreign country. The island nation and its people flood his thoughts and words when speaking at length over his recent trip there. 

By Christopher Holt • Special to SMN

When my plane touched down at Havana International Airport to loud applause from the passengers on board, I knew there was going to be something different about this trip.

SEE ALSO: WNC artist visits Cuba in search of its political and cultural meaning in the 21st century

election time largeTo the Editor:

I won’t be voting for Michele Presnell, but it seems silly for this newspaper and local elected officials to blame her for the failure of local initiatives like the proposed room tax increase, school funding issues that influenced the closing of Central Elementary and the failure of the proposed Lake Junaluska/Waynesville merger to get on the ballot. Maybe part of the problem is we’re not doing enough to engage our citizens in information exchange or dialogue.

election timeBy Chris Cooper • Guest Columnist

If I had to use one word to describe the North Carolina primary, it would be predictable. Boring, even. The very same pollsters who blew the Michigan Democratic primary hit the nail on the head in North Carolina. It’s almost impossible to find a pollster who did not predict that the top of the ticket would feature wins by Trump, Clinton, Burr, Ross, McCrory and Cooper. Even the turnout was, well, average for a presidential year (virtually identical to statewide voter turnout in 2008 and 2012).

book“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”

— George Orwell, 1984

For the past year, Americans have endured — I use the word deliberately — the charges and countercharges of men and women running for the presidency of the United States. We must now endure another seven months of this ruckus, and as in most American elections throughout our history, mudslinging will be the order of the day.

op frI’ve been watching the Trump shenanigans from afar, laughing it off as a collective momentary lapse in judgment, but as he continues to gain momentum, I’m becoming dumbfounded by how many Americans are so easily deceived.

We all remember who was president when we were kids, and if my boys’ childhood memories are muddled whatsoever by Donald Trump’s bully-like, chauvinistic behavior, I’m going to be heartbroken.

op frWith the North Carolina primary election just days away on March 15, Donald Trump continues his march toward the Republican nomination and, dare we imagine, perhaps the presidency. What was a bad joke six months ago now seems a very real possibility.

This much we know: Trump is most probably not a total racist and bigot, but he is at the very least a xenophobic jerk, he’s pompous, crass, egotistical, a comfortable liar, and more-than-a-little lewd. He seems to take real joy in constantly being disrespectful to those he is competing against and makes bizarre statements (“I love the poorly educated”) that reveal a deep obliviousness to this country’s problems.

op trumpStephanie Wampler • Guest Columnist

Good news, fellow citizens.  It’s only a matter of time before we can all sleep easily, comfortable in the knowledge that we will never be bombed in our homes or at Little League games. Candidate Trump’s chances of winning the presidency increase everyday, and it seems only a matter of time before he is making rational decisions for all of us, before our lives are in his hands.

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