Let’s focus on common values and shared solutions, not our divisions

By Amy Edmonds Via WyoFile.com
Posted 5/14/24

If there is one thing that all of us can agree upon, it is how deeply politics is dividing this country — and how much that division has negatively affected relationships with friends, …

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Let’s focus on common values and shared solutions, not our divisions


If there is one thing that all of us can agree upon, it is how deeply politics is dividing this country — and how much that division has negatively affected relationships with friends, neighbors, and sadly even many families.

Our state, like our nation, is caught up in the sickness of “us versus them.” And none of it is making our state or our nation better. The idea of working together for a better future is considered divisive in today’s political circles.

Instead, we the voters are being used to wrestle power from one party or the other, or in Wyoming’s case, from one intra-party sect to another, in a never-ending battle for supreme power. That’s something the Founders never intended and would be distraught to see happening in the country they sacrificed so much to create.

But despite all of this, there is hope for our future, and we all hold the key to that hope. Some may say I am a constant optimist, but there is a lot of common ground on many of the issues that divide us that we, the people outside the political bubble, can work to achieve. And we should all push to try and find that common ground whenever and wherever we can. Every victory over partisan politics is a step away from this divisiveness. So, let’s start talking about wins we can achieve right here in Wyoming at the city, county and state level.

I’m going to earn my optimistic chops by starting with the very controversial subject of life. It might seem there is no common ground, but I think there is; we just need to work together to achieve it.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the issue of abortion is now an individual state matter. Wyoming’s Legislature has brought a succession of bills, first a trigger bill and then others, to ban abortion in the Cowboy State. These remain tied up in state court, while the U.S. Supreme Court recently took up an issue around chemical abortions (a case more about standing than abortion, but it still will have an impact). All these things keep the fate of life or abortion in limbo for the time being. But I believe if we look at the issue differently, we can find areas where we can come together and agree.

I think of it as a babies and families campaign.

I mean, who doesn’t love babies? Who doesn’t recognize the importance of family?

The ushering in of new life is a beautiful thing. It gives everyone new hope and new joy. No matter the circumstances, we can all agree that babies are wonderful. And the families that raise them are a vital part of their healthy upbringing and creating healthy communities.

Imagine your city or town with no children. No squeals of laughter at the local park on a Saturday morning. No school children racing out of school at the end of the day. No families gathered on blankets at the park watching a 4th of July celebration. Pretty grim, right?

But let’s face it, our families are stressed. Moms and dads are working longer and harder to provide for children who are doing more and feeling less at peace. According to some reports, childhood anxiety is at an epidemic level. More couples are choosing not to have children, as we see in the continual lowering of our national birth rate. All of this is bad news for our state and our nation.

So how do we create a more family friendly, baby friendly environment in ways we can all champion?

I can think of three things, but feel free to add to my list with one of your own.

First, we can start placing a higher value on family friendly infrastructure in our communities. Want to build a large apartment complex or a new subdivision on the edge of town? Let’s make sure there are parks close by with play equipment and adequate benches. Have an old subdivision with bad sidewalks?

Let’s fix that! And let’s make sure there are sidewalks that connect apartment buildings or subdivisions to parks, schools, or any places young families with babies in prams or children on motor scooters can travel together.

Next, let’s think of ways to encourage new businesses, as they relocate to our state, to prioritize family friendly policies such as work-from-home options for both parents, extended leave for pregnancy and birth, family inclusive workspaces, and the like.

And let’s not forget dads. We need to put a higher value on the fathers in our state. The old ideal of the corporate man needs to be dismantled and, in its place, the working dad installed. Let’s ensure fathers can leave work to get their children, that they can take time off to coach Little League or attend a child’s school event or pediatricians’ appointment. Fathers play an invaluable role in their children’s lives, and we need our businesses and our communities to reflect that, regardless of whether they work in a traditional office or out in the field.

Next, the state of Wyoming, as an employer, could start putting more family friendly policies in place, and we can all champion that by letting our lawmakers know we support these ideas. Better work-from-home policies, more paid time off, more sick and leave time with greater flexibility for families are all possibilities. All of these attract workers the state needs, especially those with families who can grow our communities.

As well, our children’s digital lives are part of the driver behind the growing childhood anxiety epidemic, and while most of the policy work needed to help fix that sits at the federal level, our schools do play a role.

Let’s all stand behind our local schools’ cell phone policies when they push to get phones out of classrooms, or better yet, the entire school. We can work together to highlight ideologically neutral anti-bullying policies everyone can agree upon.

And finally, let’s think about ways we can make adoption easier, and strive to reduce or eliminate fostering for long periods of time. Every adoptable child in our state deserves to find their permanent family as soon as possible. Other states have created amazing adoption programs — we can too.

These represent just a tiny sliver of the things many of us, both pro-life and pro-choice, can and should work on together. As a pro-life advocate, making it easier to carry, deliver and raise babies is important. But supporting parents and would-be parents is something I think most can agree upon regardless of your views on abortion.

At the end of the day, we must remind ourselves that our state is not filled with “us versus them,” it is filled with our neighbors, our friends and our families. We can find solutions together.

Let’s make that a priority.


Amy Edmonds is a former state legislator from Cheyenne. She can be reached at amyinwyoming@icloud.com.

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.