2017-01-19 / Opinion

The Spirit of Washington


Whether you’ll be wearing a smile or a frown after Friday’s inauguration, for better or for worse, the die, as they say, will be cast. And with that, in ways large and small, our great collective challenge will begin: Will we be able to come together in the next four years, for the greater good, given what many of us – from the “blue” states especially – regard as an insurmountable challenge?

Americans love a challenge. We are a fix-it nation. If something seems askew, or to have gone awry, it is entirely un-American not to want to get in there and fix it. That’s what makes politics. And we always think the next fix is right around the corner.

More than 200,000 are expected to participate in the post-inaugural Women’s March on Washington on Saturday, Jan. 21. They are coming with more than 200,000 stories to tell, people sharing experiences, walking together to turn that next corner to find the fix.

Among those thousands will be dozens of women from Newport County. This will be an event born of frustration, but which has gathered so much momentum that to read our neighbors’ stories about why they are going, and learn from them – we can only predict that in the end it will make us feel proud – and patriotic. Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth, Tiverton, and Jamestown will be well-represented. It was also confirmed, earlier in the week, that Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and members of his staff will be joining the Rhode Islanders who are going.

Through their involvement, these women lift us up. A colleague of ours at Newport This Week will be there. “Can’t wait!” she said. There appears to be a spirit of celebration and empowerment far stronger than what has brought them to the nation’s capital in the first place.

On the local level, proactive community involvement has become a valuable and necessary commodity. Aquidneck Island is diverse and vibrant, and its challenges and strengths reflect that diversity. There is a roster of organizations that have devoted untold hours to establishing a strong culture of social investment and all the volunteers on the municipal boards and commissions are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Earlier this week a former city councilor stopped in at Newport This Week to discuss, among other things, the power of community involvement in making our country great. People should not “be praying for failure” in the next four years, he said; “It will not be good for the country.” What people need to do, he said, “is get involved. The success of our government – of all that we’re invested in,” he added, “depends on it.”

Let’s work to embrace that spirit of Washington. It may just be the fix we need.

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