Tags Posts tagged with "Opinion"


A caravan of cars rolled through Port Jefferson Oct. 17 in support of President Donald Trump. Photo by Kyle Barr

Beyond the interruption to Saturday business for stores, some of whom are hanging on for dear life by their pinkie, beyond the traffic and the noise, where is this going?

Because we are two weeks before an election, likely one of the most consequential elections of our lifetime, and the Trump caravans taking over roads not just on the North Shore as they did last weekend, but from both east and west, have told us one thing: There are real efforts to take the general antipathy seen on the national stage and transport it to here at home.

Seemingly in response to a single Black Lives Matter march in Port Jefferson back in June, local right-wing group Setauket Patriots has hosted three events since July. One was a sanctioned car parade for Fourth of July. Another was an unsanctioned parade for 9/11. Now we have the most recent caravan supporting the reelection of President Donald Trump (R) last Saturday. All these events have contained many examples of people waving flags supporting Trump, but this latest parade finally dropped any pretense.

In videos shared online, some patriots members have displayed animosity to local officials, to neighbors or effectively anyone who doesn’t agree with them. One video highlighted an actor portraying Trump calling Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant “evil” for issuing the group a summons for marching without a permit. In another, a member of the caravan jokes about shooting counterprotesters.

Grown men and young children got into public shouting matches on the side of the street. There were reported examples of people in the caravan using gay slurs at any who showed disagreement. And, of course, not every example of bad behavior was carried out by Trump supporters. One counterprotester flipped the bird at all those gathered at the street corner, drawing jeers from the crowd.

Are these examples just small bites of a larger, more intricate context? We hope so, but there’s a real danger to thoughts like these. Yes, you can and should disagree with the decisions of public officials like the mayor of a small incorporated village, but what is the point of pejoratives? Where is this going? Is there going to be something like the planned armed coup by residents against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)? Not likely but, then again, officials like U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY1) have joined in on attacks against the mayor seemingly on political grounds. These attempts at further dividing a local community are not welcome.

And beyond that, if you joke about shooting your political opponents, no matter if they are protesters, officials or police, you no longer deserve the kind of public platform you currently enjoy.

Divided. That’s what we call ourselves now. We say we are polarized and distinct, with one red America and one blue America. Why? Why do we push this polarization as if it’s inevitable?

This month, TBR News Media has been hosting debates with candidates running for local elections. Would you be offended or glad to know just how often these people from two separate parties actually agree on local issues? Both Republicans and Democrats agree with how important it is to maintain our North Shore bays and the Long Island Sound in general. Both parties understand the issue of Long Island’s brain drain and the need to keep both old and young here. They might disagree on the particulars, but that is why we have the debates in the first place, isn’t it?

Even on the so-called hot-button issues like police reform, there is real nuance and ideas from candidates you likely won’t see on any nationally televised debate stage.

There are people, even in our local community, who are trying to twist us and divide us. We ask that we all look past that and attend to the facts to guide our political decision-making. Check back with TBR News Media Oct. 29 for our upcoming preelection issue.

File photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Three years and a different world ago, I attended a scientific conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on a gene editing technique called CRISPR, or more technically CRISPR-cas9.

I rubbed elbows with some of the many talented scientists at an internationally renowned institution. In a casual atmosphere filled with high-powered talks from people who speak the language of science with accents from all over the world, the grounds at CSHL, with its winding roads and personalized parking spaces, offers a tree-lined backdrop for new collaborations and discoveries.

Back then, I invited one of the conference organizers, Jennifer Doudna (pronounced Dowd nuh), who is a Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, to lunch.

After a talk she gave to a packed Grace Auditorium, she and I strolled to the cafeteria to discuss a gene editing tool that has the potential to change the world.

Indeed, even today, labs around the world are using a technique based on the way bacteria recognize and fight off viruses to combat the effect of SARS-CoV-2, or the virus that causes COVID-19.

During that sunny July day in 2017, however, we were blissfully unaware of the challenges to come in 2020. We sat down at a central table outside, with people passing, nodding and acknowledging my tall and talented lunch guest.

While she responded to an appreciative crowd of casually dressed researchers, she was present and focused on the many questions I’d prepared for an upcoming Power of 3 column (see page B9 for another look at that column).

Like many revolutionary technologies and inventions such as splitting the atom, CRISPR is neither all good nor all bad. Editing genes creates opportunities to cure or prevent diseases and to disarm a range of miniature invaders.

At the same time, gene editing puts the power of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein into the hands of scientists or doctors, offering the kind of tool that requires careful ethical considerations.

Indeed, just last year, a Chinese court sentenced a researcher to three years in prison for using gene editing in unborn babies.

Doudna, who moved to Hawaii when she was seven and is a passionate gardener, is in the third year of a four-year $65 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which monitors security concerns for the intentional or accidental misuse of the technology.

Eating with Doudna on a breezy, bright summer day, I appreciated how ready she was to tailor the conversation to my level of understanding of this technology, offering details about gene editing and making sure I understood her.

While she was impressive and articulate, she certainly didn’t seem as if she were speaking to me from on high. She shared a deliberate and directed intelligence, blending a combination of an explanation of what she’d done and thoughts on the next scientific steps.

Doudna, who lives with her husband Jamie Cate, who is also a Berkeley scientist, and their high school senior son Andrew, shared an appreciation for the history of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, where she’d visited at different points in her career.

Back in 1987, she spotted a woman walking towards her. Nobel prize winner Barbara McClintock, whose name still comes up regularly in conversations with scientists at the site, strolled by, giving Doudna a thrill.

The next time someone spots or interacts with the Berkeley Professor at CSHL, they will likely feel the same excitement, as Doudna was recently named a recipient of the Nobel Prize.

Then again, it was clear from the way the attendees at the conference reacted to Doudna three years ago that, Nobel prize or not, she was already a rock star in the scientific community whose foundational work may, one day, lead to the kind of breakthroughs that extend and improve life.

METRO photo

We weren’t surprised when business owners in the wedding industry held a press conference Oct. 2 to appeal to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). For months, while restaurants have been able to operate at 50% capacity, reception locations can only allow 50 guests at an event.

The 50-guest cap and arbitrary state guidelines have been concerns of several business owners in the wedding and party industry. These locals have shared their experiences with TBR News Media for articles in the last few months, and vendors weren’t quite sure what they could do or not do, as they have had little direct communication with the state.

While we understand the need for Cuomo’s administration to keep gatherings down to a minimum, there needs to be more continuity and empathy in the guidelines. With the support of legislators, a class-action lawsuit is being filed by caterers. Business owners at the press conference said they feel they can provide a safer party than those being thrown in homes and backyards since they have more space to social distance and need to follow higher cleanliness standards. Owners said they realize following the guidelines is imperative for not only safety but to keep their licenses — something a homeowner doesn’t need to entertain.

The business owners may have a chance. This summer a federal judge issued a temporary injunction to allow an upstate golf club to operate at 50% capacity for two weddings after the couples and co-owner of the club sued New York State. That owner said his restaurant had the capacity to seat 438 people, but while operating as a restaurant one night he could have more than 200 people, on a wedding night he could only have 50.

This example may leave one wondering how a person visiting a restaurant could potentially be around more than 50 strangers, but cannot sit with more than 50 family members, friends and acquaintances at a party, especially since many wedding venues are committed to following current public health guidelines, including discouraging dancing.

Like so many businesses, COVID-19 has had a tremendous negative financial effect on the wedding industry and many are hoping to get back on track or else they may have to close their doors forever. During the shutdowns, venues had no money coming in while still needing to pay rent and utility bills. This has had a trickle-down effect where photographers, videographers, DJs and bands are called for less work, and while bakeries may have made some wedding and other celebratory cakes, the orders are smaller in size than usual.

If venues get their way, it’s imperative that owners and employees follow public-health guidelines such as 50% occupancy, social distancing, banning dancing and enforcing mask wearing when people are not seated. Seeing how restaurants in our coverage areas have been able to come up with creative ways to serve their patrons safely, including turning parking lots into outdoor dining areas, using tents — even small ones for individual parties — we believe wedding venue owners will do the same.

Of course, keeping our local businesses open works both ways. It will take more than residents signing a petition to help these businesses stay afloat, it will also require people to follow public health guidelines. So, we implore individuals to be responsible as well. It’s up to all of us to stay 6 feet away from each other, wear a mask, wash our hands regularly and stay home when we are feeling ill.

There’s a certain positive energy in the air when people come together to celebrate, and even if they can’t hug, kiss or show off their moves on the dance floor, we’re sure the majority will appreciate being there for their loved ones just as much as having dinner at their favorite restaurant.

We get it. The only time most of us think about Suffolk County buses is when we’re stuck behind them on the oft-congested Long Island roads.

But despite how many Long Islanders complain about the traffic, those who use Suffolk County buses every week have it that much worse, as the county has announced the potential loss of 19 bus routes all across the Island affecting about 2,500 riders. A loss of routes impacts the most vulnerable people, namely the poor, elderly or handicapped folks.

This is a real crisis, and it does not seem like everyone is on the same page about just what that means. The S62 bus is the only thing that can take somebody east and west in the Rocky Point area without having to call for an expensive cab. The north/south line of the S54, which many retail and service industry workers use to get to their jobs, is on the chopping block as well.

Some lines have very few daily riders, but even if one of those people won’t be able to get to their job, to the supermarket or even to visit friends and family, it will be a loss for the greater community.

This comes a week after county officials said they will need to cut two whole Suffolk County police classes, which means 200 new recruits not being put out on the streets.

County Executive Steve Bellone’s (D) now weekly press conferences portending doom if the federal government doesn’t come through with funds for state and local municipalities are a kind of theater, yes, but they are also perhaps the only way for the county executive to make his point beyond sitting in the president’s lap and telling “Santa Trump” all the things he wants for Christmas, before the county hits the point where a budget goes through, and so do the cuts.

And that makes some local elective’s response to Bellone’s talk that much more exasperating. Republicans in the county Legislature contend the current financial woes are all the executive’s doing, and that since he already received over $280 million in federal aid, we should not be hitting up the federal government for more. That would be fine, if Suffolk wasn’t going to see at least an $800 million deficit going into next year

Beyond judging just how badly the current executive has handled Suffolk’s finances, the argument falls flat when every municipality from Montauk to Orange County, every village, town and county have all said they need federal funds as well. The congressional delegation, including both Democrats and Republicans, has at least been outspoken about the need for federal funds, but the fact is the top dogs for both parties have failed to drop the animosity and create an aid package for the municipalities nationwide who need it.

It seems like the executive and minority party in the Legislature are not on the same page — as if they ever really are — but there needs to be one, and only one, message on this issue, not a cacophony of back chatter. As important as the past state of Suffolk County finances was before the pandemic, and still is after the fact, the only way that any of these local municipalities can get to the position where those arguments are valid is if we’re all on a stable financial footing.

Because we believe Bellone when he says there won’t be a single line in the budget that hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic. The loss of police classes and bus routes might be the most physical and politically stimulating examples, but one should shudder to think what other municipal services, not even county but town as well, might be getting axed in their 2021 budgets.

We are thankful that Legislature Republicans have been keeping on top of Suffolk’s financial well-being, beyond partisan politics we know it’s necessary, but now is not the time for disunity, not when the water is slowly rising and is at our necks.

Our voices need to be one, at least in this strange moment of time. We are beating back COVID-19, at least for now. Congress should not be as hard as that was if we stick together.


By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

My dog is delightfully imperfect. In fact, as I type this at my home computer, he is staring at me, hoping that I have succumbed to the snack urge and I will either intentionally toss a few morsels his way or that gravity will help him out, causing a carrot to slip off my desk.

Yes, he eats carrots, which isn’t terribly surprising because he also eats cat poop whenever he can get to it. I’m not sure he has taste buds or that he pays attention to them.

I love my imperfect dog and would like to share some of his quirks.

For starters, walking in a straight line is clearly against his religion. As soon as he’s on one part of a sidewalk, he needs to cross in front of me to the other side. He is a canine windshield wiper, swishing back and forth in case there is a scent, a scurrying insect, or a frog hopping nearby that he needs to see or smell.

When he’s not sitting during our walks, because he seems to have the words “walk” and “sit” confused, he turns around every few seconds to see what’s behind us. If he is a reincarnated person, he must have been in the rear guard of a military unit, making sure no one was following him.

When we turn around to go back in the direction he was staring, he then stops to look over his shoulder in the direction we had been walking.

It’s not about what’s out there, but what’s back there that concerns him.

His breath is an absolute mystery. He consumes a bowl of chicken and rice formula twice a day. And yet, somehow, his breath smells like fish. You know how they say you can hear the ocean in a conch shell? Well, you can smell the ocean, and not the good, salty crisp air parts, but the rotting-seaweed-and-dead-crabs-on-an-airless, overheated-beach parts, on my dog’s breath.

Then, there are the neighbors. They are so appealing to my dog that he pulls to go see them whenever they are outside. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they drop a treat in front of him each time he appears.

Yes, I know I could train him, but I could also go running more often, go to bed earlier, read better books and make better choices for myself, so I haven’t trained either of us particularly well.

You know that delightful foot thing dogs do when you pet them behind the ear, on their stomach or on their chests? It’s the one where they shake their leg as you scratch them. Well, he does that once a month, as if he wants to confirm that he actually is a dog, but that he’s a conscientious objector to flailing his feet in the air regularly.

He treats the doorbell as if it were the starting gun at a race. He jumps up from the floor, ready to greet refrigerator repair people or HVAC workers as if they had come to see him, refusing to let them pass without an ear rub.

Food is the ultimate motivator. He may not particularly want to lie down at my feet and have me pet him while shaking his paws, but he does go back and forth with me to the grill. He always seems to be on the wrong side of our patio door. If he’s outside, he barks to come in. As soon as he’s inside, he barks to go out.

Maybe he’s not actually a dog, but a metaphor.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

It’s difficult to comprehend that women didn’t always have the rights that they have now, and many of those rights were only gained a few short decades ago.

Imagine when women weren’t able to open a bank account, have credit cards or a mortgage without a man’s signature until the passing of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in 1974. Considering a woman founded our media company in 1976 and still sits in the publisher’s seat, the thought is unfathomable to many of us.

One of the trailblazers who worked for women’s rights to manage their own finances and their own lives was Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She accomplished this feat as the co-founder of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. The void her death leaves behind is immense. Let us remember all the work that’s been done and is still being fought for true equality. Now with her seat locked in political turmoil, we believe her legacy needs to be respected more than ever.

What we need to remember is sometimes the champion for equal rights, Ginsburg, needed to represent men to work toward the goal of all being treated equally. In 1972, Ginsburg argued in front of the Supreme Court when she and her husband represented Charles Moritz, a bachelor who was unable to take a tax deduction for taking care of his sick mother as a woman or a divorced/widowed man would have been able to do. It was an ingenious tactic, showing how any discrimination on the basis of sex was harmful to the whole, rather than one select group. Throughout her career, Ginsburg was the champion of many causes that have had a positive effect on both men and women of all colors and orientations. She believed that everyone has a right to vote, to access health care including birth control, to obtain an abortion, and that when two people of the same sex fall in love, they have the right to get married just like everyone else.

Replacing Ginsburg will be no easy task, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. President Donald Trump (R) said he will nominate a woman to the seat and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) is eagerly waiting in the wings for the process to begin, despite arguing in 2016 that Supreme Court nominees should not be put to the bench in an election year. He and other Senate Republicans did not even hold a hearing for former President Barack Obama’s (D) court pick Merrick Garland that year. It’s the kind of House Rules situation you would expect more from a shady casino owner than the highest legislature in the land. It’s the kind of political skullduggery that does irrevocable lasting harm to democracy itself.

Locally, vigils held by two separate left-wing groups on Long Island’s North Shore have called for Ginsburg’s replacement to wait until after the election, and we’re inclined to agree. The dangerous precedent the U.S. Senate has engendered goes well beyond politics, but to the heart of democracy itself. There cannot be one rule for one party and another rule for the other, effectively eschewing several basic tenets of the Constitution.

There is a reason Ginsburg held on for so long, much longer than any of us would have stayed in such a stressful and high-profile position despite having five bouts with the cancer that eventually led to her death. One of her last statements dictated before her death was, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

The American value of equality for all is one that seems to be lost in our divisive times. We must honor Ginsburg’s legacy by remembering this ideal by moving toward the future and not slipping back to the 1950s where it was believed that women were only capable of being, as the saying goes, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. If that were true, we would have never experienced people like RBG.

From Photofest

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

Normally, I’d build towards my request, but I know you’re busy. So, here’s the request: please send stories about your observations of graceful actions in our community. When I get enough of them, I’ll put them together in an article. If they keep coming, I’ll put together additional columns.

Now, onto the pitch: the challenges of today and in the uncertain times ahead continue to increase even as we are now only a few months away from the countdown to 2021. What kind of Halloween will we have this year? What kind of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or, if you’re a fan of the show Seinfeld, Festivus, awaits? We know we can’t plan for the kinds of things that we used to, like seeing friends and family in large groups, snuggling up close to watch movies or to tell stories of the triumphs of our children or our companies.

As of the date of this week’s paper, we have 47 days between now and the election and who knows how much longer between now and when an already-contested national election is actually decided. That means we will hear the word “disgraceful” bandied about as if it were the best way to take down the other side.

Democrats and Republicans will call the acts, thoughts and plans of the other side “disgraceful.” While you may agree with one person or party about how your favorite politician’s opponent is, indeed, completely lacking in grace and has ideas, thoughts or expressions that are as close to an abomination as you can imagine, those words and accusations don’t elevate your hero or you, for that matter.

Sure, it feels good to find targets for the frustrations and disappointments of a difficult year. However, during challenging times such as these, how about if we share the grace with which people are handling these challenges?

Teachers, principals, janitors and everyone else associated with schools are operating under extremely difficult conditions. Surely you must have seen one of the people in the education world come up with a graceful solution to these maddening moments?

Then there are all the people involved in health care, from first responders, to nurses, to doctors. I suspect we could create a wall of stories that reveal the grace under pressure that not only inspired you over the course of this difficult year, but also could inspire other readers looking for positive messages.

Police officers, fire fighters and other emergency services workers never know exactly what they’ll face in a day, from a cat stuck in a tree to an unstable domestic violence incident, to an escalating confrontation among protesters on opposite sides of a boiling nation. The grace some of these people demonstrate can lower the temperature and restore calm and peace.

Speaking of grace, religious leaders can and do lead by example, writing sermons and acting with patience and dignity that encourage us to find the best of ourselves.

While it’s tempting to write that Mrs. Smith is a graceful teacher, please think about what she does that’s so endearing. When you show us the story, by providing an anecdote about how Mrs. Smith defused a bullying situation or encouraged your daughter to stop sucking her thumb with subtle hand gestures, you are taking our hand and leading us into that socially-distanced classroom full of masked learners.

Hopefully, whatever stories you share, if you have the time, will motivate us to follow the examples of others who have found a way, despite circumstances that may seem out of their control, to reveal the kind of grace that soothes the soul and brings meaning to each day.

Labor Day, back to school, the 19th anniversary of 9/11 — these days had consequences before. But in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, they mean that much more — they have to. They show how it’s no longer enough to be complacent and let the issues these days represent pass us by.

We can’t pass by Labor Day without thinking of the thousands upon thousands of people out of work. We have to remember just how much toil people in our local food pantries and soup kitchens are putting in to help the rising number of food insecure families across Long Island.

We bustle around and shop online for any Labor Day sales ignoring the purpose of the day is to not only celebrate organized labor’s accomplishments in gaining things as welcome as the five-day workweek, but to offer the future hope of additional compensation and relief to the millions who struggle even while working full time, too many times in more than one job.

We have to be able to come out of this pandemic with a new perspective. When those who were considered “essential” such as those who worked in supermarkets or other low-wage service industry jobs were not being compensated for the risk they put both themselves and their families in, we know there needs to be another look at allowing people to make a living wage when working full time.

On Tuesday, most of our North Shore schools reopened for in-person instruction for the first time since March. Parents walked their children to the bus stop, or more than likely drove them to school, with a great feeling of hope but likely some foreboding. Many stood at the bus stop in masks. At schools all across the North Shore, cars waited in long lines before finally letting their kids off, in some cases a faculty member waiting to take their temperature.

This is not going to be easy. Already we’re seeing the logistical issues of how tens or even hundreds of parents will drop off their students all at once. School districts need to iron out these issues, and parents, for their part, need to be patient while that is worked out. Though districts have been planning for this eventuality for months, no plan ever survives first contact, as the saying goes.

But parents must also recognize the fragility of the situation. All it takes is one slip up, one instance where the regional infection rate spikes above 9% and schools will once again shut down, as required by New York State. We can’t relax on any of our mask or distancing efforts, and this especially has to be reinforced to our children. As much as many parents don’t like what school districts have planned, even a hybrid model is better than full remote learning only. We have to think of the parents who work full time and have nobody to be home for their young children to either take care of them or make sure they’re learning properly.

As we look to commemorate 9/11, we see many events hosted by our local fire departments are not available to the public. Some have taken the option to use livestream instead, but fire departments have made the bold and correct decision to try and limit as much extra contact as possible. After all, many of the firefighters and EMTs at these departments were on the front lines not two months ago. They know better than most of us the toll the virus takes.

Let us also not forget the hundreds of people with lasting health impacts of being there when the towers fell 19 years ago. Those people are still around — folks like John Feal of the FealGood Foundation that continue to support rescue workers and other volunteers deserve our respect and backing.

This is a time that reminds us to work together in all these regards. Consequential times require conscientious action, and we believe our communities have the capability to make the right choices.

METRO photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

What are we all waiting for? A vaccine ranks high on the list, if you read the newspapers and hear the dialog and diatribes from that epicenter of anger, hostility and finger pointing known as Washington, D.C.

But, really, how much will a vaccine change our lives? If a vaccine were available tomorrow, would you take it? For a vaccine to create herd immunity, a majority (70 percent or more) of the population would need to take a safe, effective treatment.

In an unscientific survey of 18 people to whom I promised anonymity, eight of them said they would take a vaccine if it were available tomorrow, while the other 10 said they would wait anywhere from several months to a year to take it. Several of the respondents elaborated on the rationale behind their decisions.

Jody said she would take it because “absolutely anything that helps us get kids back into school and the world moving again” is worth the effort.

Melissa said she would also take a test. Her husband is currently in a clinical trial and doesn’t know if he received the vaccine or a placebo.

While Sheila suggested she usually waits a month or two after a new vaccine comes out to determine if there are any side effects, she would take it whenever it’s available “as long as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] backs it.”

A health care worker, Doug explained that his company won’t let him work without getting a flu shot. He wondered whether the company’s policy would be the same after a COVID vaccine comes out. Indeed, a vaccine would create a college conundrum, as schools that require a new vaccine before students return for the spring might cause some students to choose remote learning or to take a semester off.

Stephanie would only consider taking a vaccine if Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it was safe and effective.

Matt would not rush to get a vaccine. He said he doesn’t “buy the first model of a car or wait in line to get the newest cell phone. Let’s see how it works.”

Jacob was much more adamant, expressing concern that the urgency to get a test on the market would create a potential health hazard.

John shared Jacob’s concerns, saying he’s nervous about anything new. “I would consider taking a vaccine a year from now,” John said, but not until researchers and doctors know more about it.

Cindy, who is suffering with several other health problems, said she wouldn’t take a vaccine for a year or more. She doesn’t know if the vaccine might interact with medications she’s currently taking, while she’s also concerned that any change in her body might alter her overall health. Mindy wouldn’t rush to get a vaccine. “Testing takes time and if it were available that quickly, I would not trust the effectiveness and/or safety,” she said.

So if my non-scientific sample is reflective of the overall population, a vaccine, even if it’s effective and safe, would take more than the typical few weeks after it is available to provide a benefit to both the individual and the greater population.

While an available vaccine might be a relief, it also causes concerns about whether the process moved too quickly. Assurances from the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and Dr. Fauci might help ease those worries. To borrow from the sports world, the population is eager for an umpire to call balls and strikes after the pitch is thrown, and not before, to satisfy a timeline for people eager to return to the life of handshakes and hugs.

Stock photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This is the beginning of what many call “The Silly Season.” That term alludes roughly to between Labor Day and Election Day and refers to the many charges, counter charges, assertions, braggadocio and hyperbole that will be uttered by candidates and their parties in an attempt to win public favor. This year of 2020 seems like it will be an extreme example of this historic process.

Why this year? Because more than at any point in the memories of those still alive can there be found such partisanship and acrimony in the political arena. And those strongly held opinions and emotions have spilled over into our daily lives and interfered with our closest relationships.

Just ask divorce lawyers. According to one from New York City quoted in The New York Times, “Presidential years are typically very quiet for divorces because of the uncertainty of the presidency,” said Ken Jewell. “This year has been beyond insane.” What in the past might have been reasonable discussions about politics between couples have now become ranting confrontations. “And while people aren’t citing political differences as the sole reason for divorce, the topic is certainly compounding matters,” he explained.

Couples have been known to fight about Supreme Court rulings, the handling of the pandemic, wearing a mask, immigration and the repeal of DACA — the program that protects young immigrants — and even whether to eat indoors or outdoors at a restaurant.

Dating services have felt a similar impact. For example, according to the article by Nicole Pajer in the NYT Aug. 30 issue, 84% of the singles using Dating.com “won’t even consider dating someone with opposite political views.” And within families, feelings can run as high about marrying outside the chosen political party as they once were against marrying outside the family’s religion and ethnicity.

This is ultimate partisanship. This is also such a waste. Giving up on close relationships that have otherwise withstood the test of time merely because of different political opinions, is a decision that needs to be reconsidered. Unless that partisanship is only the straw that otherwise breaks the camel’s back, as the saying goes, in a relationship with more serious problems, those different perspectives can be made into intellectual exchanges and even result in personal growth.

Knowing how the other side thinks in a disagreement is enlightening. It can also be a bottomless well for thoughtful exchanges throughout a lifetime. What must be present, however, is mutual respect. Some couples have been able to bridge and perhaps even enjoy such a divide. The first that comes to mind is the Republican consultant, Mary Matalin, and the Democratic consultant, James Carville.

Matalin was deeply involved with the GOP as a Republican strategist serving under Ronald Reagan, functioning as a campaign director for George H.W. Bush, for whom she was then assistant, and even working as counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney.

James Carville was the lead strategist for the successful campaign of then-Arkansas governor Bill Clinton for president. Carville went on to elections work abroad, including in Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Colombia and Argentina. He was also involved with Hillary’s 2008 campaign as well as media and film efforts and public speaking. He is known for his outspoken style, which includes his comparison of Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama: “If she gave him one of her cojones, they’d both have two.”

Both Matalin and Carville have said they don’t discuss politics at home. Maybe that’s one way for those in a committed relationship to deal with ultra partisan differences. Others have handled the matter differently. Wende Thoman and William Sterns, both 72, of Delray Beach, Florida, sometimes loudly disagree about politics. “But this is the sport we’ve engaged in for a long time,” Ms. Thoman said. Mr. Sterns actually enjoys the banter. “Politics should be fun!” he said.

And yes, differing opinions can add a layer of passion to a relationship. The trick: not demeaning each other. While all’s fair in love and war, I vote for love.