Dressed in white slacks, a blouse, and an oversized hat—the kind you wear when the sun and heat are insufferable — Diana Bray walks up to U.S. Senator Cory Gardner along Albany Street with a broad smile on her face and a clipboard in her hand.
Like just about everyone in this town, she extends her hand. Then she introduces herself, which is something just about nobody in this town does. That's because Gardner knows almost all 3,000 people in his hometown.
“Good morning senator, I just wanted to say hello. My name is Diana Bray, and I am hopefully one of your challengers.” Bray is one of about a dozen contenders seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Gardner.
Gardner’s smile is genuine, and so is Bray’s. He welcomes her to the town his family has lived in for over 100 years, introduces her to his children Allison and Thatcher (the latter is weaving through the crowd on his bicycle that has a sign on it that says, “Vote for my Daddy”). Then he compliments her prudent hat choice.
“My husband is Australian,” she explains, “and he taught me the importance of hats.”
The two chit-chat about Yuma, the need to stay hydrated, and so forth. The banter goes on for a few minutes and is, frankly, normal.
It’s Yuma County parade day in this plains town in Eastern Colorado. The local Lions Club is handing out American Flags just in front of Bray and Gardner. The high school basketball team who just won their second straight state basketball championship is to their right, loading up on bottles of chocolate and white milk from the Yuma Dairy to hand out to parade goers.
Parker Dressel is about to take his place in the parade. He just won the state hog championship at the county fair over the weekend.
“He sold his pig for $5,500 last night,” Gardner notes with pride.
Dressel blushes at the attention and looks down. The 12-year-old says he raised the pig and will reinvest his winnings. “I am going to use the money to buy more pigs."
Minutes later, Lorena Garcia who is a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Colorado, also approaches Gardner. Dressed in jeans, a campaign shirt with her slogan “Put People First” on the back and also wisely wearing a straw hat, she exchanges pleasantries with her senator whom she hopes to unseat.
Even before last weekend’s horrific murders in Texas and Ohio took place, the idea of civility and grace between opponents in a face-to-face encounter would sound absurd. Our national media and our social media advance the narrative that candidates aren’t supposed to merely be on opposite sides of issues, but that they are expected to loathe each other.
Nowadays, being civil to the other side is possibly unsafe. It’s a sure way to get attacked by your own side. Consider the meltdown by the Left when the New York Times ran a banner headline titled, “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism”,the day after President Donald Trump spoke to the nation after the weekend massacres, urging unity against racism.
“Lives literally depend on you doing better,” tweeted 2020 Democrat Cory Booker of New Jersey, upset that the headline didn't make Trump look bad. But New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was far more aggressive: “Let this front page serve as a reminder of how supremacy is aided by and often relies upon the cowardice of mainstream institutions.”
Twitter vitriol then increased over the week. One congressman's campaign tweeted out names and occupations of his own constituents to shame them for donating to Trump.
It's all a striking contrast to the normal interaction between Gardner and two of his potential opponents. Seeing these real human interactions should be a reminder that when you turn on cable news and watch the panels of pundits, candidates and experts explaining how their side is better and the other side is the devil, you are watching "experts" who rarely ever observe people outside of social media.
There is a simple reason why the interaction between these candidates in Yuma didn’t make the news or trend on Twitter: It was normal and civil, which reflects the character of this country more accurately than what you see on cable or social media.