We do things a little differently here in Alaska

They’re sweeping up the confetti and balloons in Charlotte and Tampa. With the national political conventions done, it’s on the campaign for the general election in November.

What that means is that over the next two months, the rhetoric is going to be ratcheted up, and things are likely to become more and more rancorous as Nov. 6 approaches.

Here in Alaska, we’ve always prided ourselves on doing things a little different than they do it elsewhere. We got a small taste of how partisan presidential politics work in the Lower 48 when our former governor was picked as a vice presidential running mate, and it wasn’t pretty. A “truth squad” set up camp with the mission of smearing any opposition — truth having little to do with it at all.

Certainly, our state has become a little more partisan over the past few election cycles, but Alaskans, for the most part, remain politically independent. The majority of Alaska voters remain unaffiliated with any political party. We expect our elected officials to represent Alaska’s interests — working across party lines where it benefits our state. Indeed, all three members of our congressional delegation emphasize their ability to work with colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

And that’s not to say we don’t have our disagreements. But even last year, when our Legislature found itself stymied on several controversial topics, the arguments were over policy and political philosophy, and, for the most part, not personal.

Perhaps we’re painting too rosy a picture of Alaska politics, but our point is this: When it comes to participating in the democratic process, there is plenty of room for reasonable people to engage in informed debate, without resorting to name-calling, stretching the truth or other nastiness. While people may behave that way elsewhere, as big as our state is, Alaska is just too small a place for it.

More

Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:53

What others say: Obama’s legacy a mixed one

President Barack Obama leaves office Friday after eight years as the most consequential Democrat to occupy the White House since Lyndon Johnson. And unlike that Texan, whose presidency was born in tragedy and ended in failure, Obama will not have the ghost of the Vietnam War haunting his days and eating his conscience as LBJ did all the remaining days of his life.

Read more

Op-ed: Trump won the news conference

Donald Trump should do press conferences more often. Not for the country’s sake, certainly not for the media’s sake, but for his. He really shouldn’t have waited 167-plus days to hold one, because the man gives great sound bite. Although I’ve participated in probably thousands of these staged encounters as a reporter, they’re not my favorite way of getting news — you almost never get any. The guy at the podium controls the proceeding. He can get his message out with little challenge from the assembled journalists who are limited to a question and a follow-up, maybe. Politicians can bob and weave through that without any of us landing a blow. And that’s our job: to penetrate the canned responses to their version of the controversy du jour and get at whatever truth they are hiding. Besides, Trump — who uses contempt for the media as a weapon, his preferred way to discredit reporting that displeases him —has a wonderful forum to do that. At the very least he should hold these confrontations as a supplement to his Twitter tirades. And frequently. It’s his opportunity to hold the media hostage as they cover live his rain of abuse on them.

Read more

Good luck in Juneau

The 30th Alaska Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our Kenai Peninsula legislators good luck over the coming months in Juneau.

Read more

Ready to weather the storm

If there’s a bright spot in the recent headlines regarding Alaska’s economy, it’s this: on the Kenai Peninsula, the bad news isn’t nearly as bad as it could be.

Read more