Archived Opinion

A subtle eclipse, a reminder of what we’ve lost

A subtle eclipse, a reminder of what we’ve lost

As Lori and I walked our dog through the roads in our subdivision this morning before sunrise, Election Day, we hoped for no fog and no clouds so we could witness the lunar eclipse. It was indeed crystal clear, the stars were out, and for most of the walk we watched as the Earth’s shadow slowly moved across the full moon near the western horizon. It’s a subtle celestial show, the darker orange/yellow slowly covering the brighter yellow/white. Otherworldly.

The slight difference in color was surely noticeable and gorgeous, but totally unlike a total solar eclipse when the sun is blacked out by the moon.

Being a journalist and having been bombarded over the last couple months by election coverage, that concept of subtle differences was stuck in my head as I sat down to finish a column after our walk. As it turns out, what I’d started writing yesterday was put away for another week. I wanted to write about all the subtle differences in American political beliefs versus the chasm that exists over a handful of issues. How has that middle ground become so ignored and elusive, while the issues that divide are always front and center?

As a teen and young adult in the 1970s and 1980s, it seems the big political fights were over welfare and social programs, how much to spend on the military, what were the income tax rates that were fair for most Americans. There was much to agree on: most support the military, most are OK with paying our fair share of taxes, most are considerate and generous enough to support welfare for those in need, and most are not racists or bigots. Certainly the cultural issues were also important then, and there were hard-fought battles over race, drugs, guns, women’s rights, abortion, immigration, sexuality and more. But there was a middle, and it was seen as admirable and honorable to be able to compromise, to give in a little on one’s heartfelt beliefs, to sacrifice in order to reach common ground that kept the country moving forward.

Now, cultural issues are center stage and it’s an all or nothing game. For instance, as we reported a couple of weeks ago, the safety net entitlement programs so important for most Americans could become a bargaining chip as Congress and the president argue over raising the debt ceiling. Truth is both parties have run deficits since the last balanced budget in the Clinton Administration. If you’re red, your party helped contribute to the deficit. If you’re blue, well, same thing; your party helped create the deficit.

Today, though, it’s what differentiates us that grabs all the headlines and fills the vacuum that is the internet. Now, even talk about secession and splitting the country has become — if not commonplace — at least a topic of conversation, one born out of the frustration of not being able to find shared values.

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I often run into a long-time friend at the gym, and we exchange small talk. Just last week the subject turned to politics on the agenda. He’s a smart guy, is well read and up to date on news and politics.

“It might be OK if we just split the country up, give the Republicans part and Democrats parts. I mean, there just doesn’t seem to be any middle ground anymore,” he said.

We joked about how both sides would want some of the warm parts of the country and how that might shake out. It all sounds far-fetched, but Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative icon National Review, recently reported on a survey by the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

“That poll found that about 50 percent of Donald Trump voters and 40 percent of Joe Biden voters agreed to some extent with the proposition that the country should split up, with either red or blue states seceding,” Lowry wrote.

When this edition hits the streets on Wednesday, Nov. 9, we could be headed toward a crisis regarding election results that could turn up the heated rhetoric we’re all tired of hearing. If that happens no or during the 2024 presidential election, I’m just not sure what the future holds for the U.S.

Me, I’m thinking back to that eclipse, the oranges and yellows. So many hues mixing beautifully together. Perhaps leaders and the rest of us can recapture the middle, the give and take of politics, the subtle art of compromise with compassion. Perhaps.

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

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3 comments

  • Beautiful editorial, a desperately-needed plea for sanity and moderation in our thoughts and deeds including our words, Scott. I've shared to by Facebook friends, many of whom are here in WNC, and others around the world. Thank you for making this start of what can happen.

    posted by Mary Curry

    Sunday, 11/13/2022

  • Well said, Scott! Thank you once again for your thoughtful observations.

    It must be so tiring for you, though, to offer thoughtful, insightful, and always respectful observations about the state of our nation/state/community, and then see the predictably moronic blathering of someone like this "Quartermaster" character in response. He/she is obviously an angry, paranoid, and fundamentally miserable person who, like every other coward in the online world, sits at his/her computer and spews anonymous drivel that is full of half-truths and outright lies. Yet you still allow this whining dolt to express his/her lunatic rants, because you believe in freedom of speech, even when it's as trashy as what comes from the "Quartermaster."

    You're a better man than I, Editor McLeod!

    posted by John Sanderson

    Friday, 11/11/2022

  • " If you’re red, your party helped contribute to the deficit. If you’re blue, well, same thing; your party helped create the deficit."

    Well, well, well. You finally one thing right. As for the heated rhetoric, your side of the aisle has been engaging in vote fraud for years and it finally became rather blatant in 2020. You leftists could not care less, though. All you care about is maintaining yourselves in power. The rule of law can go hang.

    posted by Quartermaster

    Wednesday, 11/09/2022

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