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We should be less partisan when voting

Months ago, long before the primaries that preceded the mid-term election about to take place on November 6, I met Tabitha Isner. She came to the county to visit a gathering of people calling themselves the Covington County Grassroots Alliance, a group dedicated to building bridges and finding ways to support what is best for the citizens of this county, this state and this country.

They were meeting at my yoga studio until they could find a place more centrally located. Someone in the group knew someone involved with what was in the early stages of becoming the Tabitha Isner campaign and they invited her to the meeting.

To say she is fighting not just an uphill battle, but also an up the mountain battle in her campaign for the seat in the United States House of Representatives held by Martha Roby is an understatement of the obstacles she faces. However, on the day I met her she was, as she still is, optimistic about the future.

I spent a fair number of years in the newspaper business and in that time, I interviewed a fair number of people, many of them politicians. When you do that enough, you develop a radar that signals whether someone is genuine or shooting you a line.

There was not one bleep on my “this-is-not-a-genuine-person” radar as I talked with Tabitha. She was open, thoughtful and obviously intelligent. More importantly, she radiated a sense of caring that you just can’t fake.

When she said she was about people and not political party, you knew she meant it. Maybe it’s the fact that she is deeply spiritual and has a strong religious background. That’s also something that is extremely hard to fake.

In a state with strong religious values, she seems like the perfect person to represent us in Washington. Unfortunately, she has one strike against her, one that is almost impossible to overcome in a society that has taken a big slide into tribalism. She is running as a Democrat in Red State Alabama.

There are a good number of folks who won’t even consider her or learn anything about her as a person and a candidate simply because she is not a member of the party they claim. That we have become people who close our minds to considering a candidate when we hear the words Republican or Democrat is sad for all of us.

It’s also not the design intended when our country was born. This was an experiment in democracy, an opportunity to experience living in a united land. The founders meant for us to have differing ideas and to express them while still remaining the United States of America.

I’ve heard people say they absolutely will not vote for anyone who is not a member of their political party, their tribe. That goes for both the parties of red and of blue. How is this a good thing for democracy? How is this thoughtful voting?

Back to Tabitha Isner. That Saturday months ago, we talked about a lot of things. She talked about the importance of giving our children the best opportunities. You could see her heart as she talked about the need for quality healthcare, for equality and good jobs, how vital it is to make sure elderly citizens have what they need.

But it takes more than heart to make things happen. And this woman is smart, willing to listen, to learn and to work with whomever she needs to work with to make things better for the folks she will represent.

She moves in her life by faith and she came into this race guided by that faith and with a desire to make a difference in the world. Perhaps, for a large number of District 2 voters the only thing she doesn’t have is an “R” beside her name and that’s a shame.

We need more candidates like Tabitha Isner. And we need to be thoughtful citizens who vote for people not parties.

 

 

Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher. The opinions she expresses are her own.