Commentary: Us vs. them bitterness is what’s un-American

This column appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008.

We didn’t talk politics at last Friday’s football game.

One mother told me about her worry over her son’s imminent surgery for a nagging shoulder injury that ended his season two games early.

Another mom who had band-roadie duty told my husband about the regional marching contest and the daunting challenge of advancing to state competition against larger and better-equipped bands from suburban schools.

Later, as a loyal crew gathered to welcome a weary team back to the field house, we asked around for the latest on efforts to replace our school’s concrete-hard practice field with a surface that’ll cause our football and soccer players fewer sprains and breaks.

Over a late-night meal at a local pancake house, conversation ranged from how to feed ravenous teenagers to the admirable dexterity with which one couple juggles late-night work hours with almost-full-time school volunteering.

I couldn’t tell you any of those folks’ political leanings. It’s not that we don’t care about the implications of the presidential election. We’re all just focused on concerns we have in common: our children’s health and education; jobs that will enable us to pay our bills; safe communities that provide opportunities for our young people; healthcare costs that remain within reach.

When Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and other politicians recklessly bait their audiences by trying to divide our country into "real Americans" and "un-Americans," it’s more than infuriating. It’s insulting.

Real Americans live in small towns and sprawling cities, in trailer parks and McMansions, in historic neighborhoods and booming exurbs, in homogeneous gated communities and close-knit immigrant enclaves, on both coasts, north and south, in between and even in Alaska and Hawaii.

To read the complete column, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.