Letter to the editor: Purists forget diversity is strength

"The Right to Know," by Norman Rockwell, 1968.

To the editor:

How do humans learn? We can be self-taught through books and other resources, and we can learn through experience and, from the day we are born until the day we leave this earth, we can learn from others — if we allow it.

State Senator Jake Chapman seems to believe that he has nothing to learn from others — including his constituents.

All of us could list events we’ve been drug to, heels in the dirt, that ended up pleasantly surprising us. Consider the food, music, art, binge-worthy TV, sports or other events you would have missed out on had it not been for someone else introducing you to the experience. Experiences that expanded your knowledge and understanding and widened the realm of things you enjoy in life.

Endless short cuts, ah-ha moments and life-changing advice have come to us from outside ourselves.

Who wants a world in which everyone is just like us? Strengths and flaws? We need the feedback that a diverse world provides.

A state senator’s job is to speak on behalf of the district. Feedback is a critical component of democratic representation. Chapman wants none of that.

How often does the cute couple in the rom-com that you love say some version of, “You make me a better person”? We can only become better people if there is diversity in our lives.

Chapman champions a lack of diversity. He shows no desire to broaden his knowledge and no encouragement for others to broaden theirs. It’s the opposite. He condones his supporters’ desires to expose no one to anything but their own narrow views.

When did listening to and learning from others become a bad thing? How does offering another viewpoint solicit name calling, demonization and calls for firing or worse? We’ve become like every lynch mob in a Western or the pitchfork-and-torch-bearing villagers in “Frankenstein.”

We have two major political parties in the U.S. If they both say, “It’s my narrow way or nothing,” then where does that leave America? It leaves us pretty much where we too often seem to be.

Most people are in the middle — center-left, center or center-right. Those differing viewpoints are what move the nation forward. We take pieces of everyone’s viewpoints and put together a plan that most can support. Not perfect, but workable. Something that can be built upon. Progress versus stagnation or deterioration.

Democracy and progress require that we all continually develop and cultivate our critical thinking skills. We must value and promote objective analysis, questioning and evaluation of political ideas and solutions versus submitting to whatever a single politician tells us. Critical thinking must not be suppressed, as Chapman seems to desire. Maybe he recognizes his views would topple under such evaluation.

We live in a society. “Be best” is not done alone. It’s done with a diverse village working together. It’s messy. It’s hard. But dictatorships suppress, while democracies represent the entire population. Intolerance of views that differ from your own is not promoting freedom for all but freedom for you alone.

A sincere, “I can see why you might feel that way,” isn’t a weakness. It doesn’t require agreement. It requires listening, respect and empathy — skills Chapman seems to have failed to develop.

There are reasons for people to lose their jobs. Disagreeing with your political opinions should not be a reason for competent, skilled professionals who are effectively performing the duties of their jobs to be fired. (With the obvious limited exceptions, such as having a Biden supporter run a Trump campaign.)

Firing people for their political opinions? That’s a society that doesn’t value democracy. Doesn’t value free speech. Doesn’t value critical thinking. Doesn’t value a diversity of views. A society that doesn’t want others exposed to anything they don’t believe. That’s a society that demands conformity from all. That’s a society that is un-American. A society that is announcing that it doesn’t want to improve and advance.

Jake Chapman demands that you agree with him or be fired. No freedom of thought. No diversity of ideas. Universal compliance with his views and nothing less. If re-elected, he will continue to represent his own extremist views and no one else’s. His legislative votes have no room for your concerns.

Vote for moderation and practical, workable solutions. Vote for a respectful lawyer-farmer who will work for his entire district and not for himself. A true servant leader. Vote Warren Varley 2020.

Laura Stebbins


  1. I looked up Warren Varley’s campaign website and found his positions well stated. He appears to be very reasonable and positive about serving the citizens of our district. I then looked up Senator Chapman’s campaign site. Chapman has no plan or stated mission beyond being yet another amplifier for Trump. I suppose he figures that’s enough for us to continue pay his salary and benefits. The vital role of state senator is to serve the constituents. To be a conduit carrying our voices and needs to government. Not the other way around. From what I have seen, Warren Varley understands that.

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