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Divided We Fall

This is not normal politics, nor an expression of freedom; it is political violence. The truth can hurt, but these lies are getting people killed.ContinueDivided We Fall

We are out of time. A year in the aftermath of an attempted coup has not changed enough to prevent the next one. There is a clear and dangerous line from the attack on the capital last January, misdirected pandemic fury, and the ongoing assaults on the independence of our elections. A power-hungry President attempted to destroy the American project. Politicizing commonsense health measures perverted a nationwide crisis into a series of national tragedies. Poisonous rage is infecting all levels of our civic society, down to municipalities and schools. Merely lamenting these divisions, or making empty pleas to “come together” is as good as silence. History insists we act. It will take every one of us to prevent the foundations of communities from eroding. Democracy itself is on the line.

Grifters are profiting from the undermining of American institutions, eroding faith in democratic ideals, and common goodwill. Reckless lying is compromising a safe and better future. Indulging delusions has demonized civil servants, from school administrators to medical professionals and election boards. There are still millions in denial about the results of the 2020 election because corrupt liars led their followers to alienation, crimes, even injury and death. Performative refusals to accept clean and confirmed election returns incited a still-smoldering insurrection. Raw hate is erupting from keyboards and mics, as those who fall victim to conspiracies see neighbors as traitors. This is not normal politics, nor an expression of freedom; it is political violence. The truth can hurt, but these lies are getting people killed.

Tribalism and groupthink is not unique to one party, but the cultish worship of one politician is dangerous and anti-American. Republican values have been abandoned by the GOP.  A party with an honorable democratic tradition is now further committed to protecting one spoiled man’s fragile ego than the lives of Americans. This party has rejected free speech, as it purges disagreement from its ranks and lampoons traditional Republicans for standing by principles. Representatives like Anthony Gonzales and Adam Kitzinger are not seeking re-election due to “toxic dynamics” in their Party, while Representative Liz Cheney is besieged. Recently, Representative Dan Crenshaw called out this “performative” caucus of false conservatives on their self-serving agendas. These are a dwindling few remaining in a Party that no longer advocates personal responsibility, patriotism, or the rule of law, while it soaks in grift, regurgitates the Kremlin’s propaganda, and overlooks attacks on American elections.

America finally lost the Republican Party in 2021, but we have not lost Republicans. We have not lost our Constitution. Voting on superficial political allegiances is not democratic, thus each of us must be mindful of our power and responsibility. Each of us must engage with our communities, civic society, and elections. The stakes are too high for normal partisan games. Disagreements are very real, and worldviews are not impersonal, but hate is a weapon of political hacks. Right now the angriest voices are setting agendas to divide, rehash culture wars, bully students into regressive conformity, and deny real threats to safety. Communities will only build trust if we learn to understand the diversity of beliefs and experiences. We cannot accept politicians thought-policing our classrooms. We will not accept death threats as normal politics. Americans have broad agreements despite wide divides in information and we now have shared experiences that could bring us closer. Only by acting and voting together can we keep schools and businesses safe, and overcome the challenges in our community. Vote for our futures, not on bitter pasts, or we lose this Republic.

Kyle Esposito
East Rockhill Township


Originally Published in the Intelligencer

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A Time to Heal

We cannot allow those who profit in division and prey on our differences to tear us apart.ContinueA Time to Heal

Over the last year, I have reflected deeply on what America represents — what is American, including our many disagreements, complexities and contradictions. After the events in our nation’s capital on Jan. 6, 2021, I have a memorable image of what is unamerican.

A violent display of entitlement, selfishness, and cruelty defiled a symbol of our republic and our democracy. This tragedy will hopefully serve as a reminder that lies and silence have a cost, and that rhetoric can kill.

As the chill of winter gradually cools the raging flame of this past election, as the banners of political allegiance steadily retreat into garages and Dumpsters, we should not let the violent overshadow the virtuous. We must take stock in what binds us together, and remember the heroes in America, not those who rally against her.

Our country is enduring incredible hardship as we enter a second year of this pandemic. We have learned how much we rely on one another, to appreciate our time together, and the value of a simple hug. We have been reminded of what is real. We have been reminded of what matters.

We have rallied around American ideals of justice and fairness, we have learned to value our local businesses, the contribution of entrepreneurs, come to appreciate the hard work of everyone on the new “front line”, and the incredible heroism of our medical community.

Our teachers have again shown that they are some of our community’s most valuable members. They have risen to this challenge, relearning how to educate, virtually or in-person, for the sake of everyone.

Families have grappled with their new roles as “essential” workers, potentially risking their health to keep food in the fridge, or becoming part-time teachers themselves as they work from home.

Too many were burdened with unreasonable demands, yet rose to the challenge. They are the best of America. They are our leaders. We have accomplished so much with a dysfunctional federal government, without leadership, and without clarity of information.

But even with everything we have achieved, there has been an unbelievable cost. I am just beginning to process all we have lost so quickly. We are passing once-unthinkable numbers of Americans dead to a novel disease. I am still learning whose faces I will no longer get to see. Those who I knew well, and those who I knew at a distance, now leave large and unexpected vacancies in our community.

In this period of shock and pain for the nation, we must look closer to home. We must stop demonizing disagreement. We are Americans first, Democrats and Republicans last, if at all. How we vote is not who we are. Those elected to public office are to represent voters, not to mislead them, hide from their questions or deliver them false promises. We do not pledge allegiance to those who earn our vote. Politics is not war.

We cannot allow those who profit in division and prey on our differences to tear us apart. Do not listen to those who tell you to hate your neighbor. This country is held together by its ideals. If we allow hate to erode the beliefs that bind our nation, we will lose America.

Kyle Esposito
East Rockhill Township

Originally Published in the Intelligencer

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We Need a Comprehensive View of School Safety and Security

We must sustain a nuanced conversation about mental health, which will help break the stigma and identify areas where we need additional support. ContinueWe Need a Comprehensive View of School Safety and Security

As the community has adjusted to the school year, active-shooter drills and media headlines have kept today’s depressing reality in the forefront of our minds. At a time where our students should be focused on learning and growing, they are also coping with an undeniable cloud of fear and confusion. For many, it may feel like solutions are being ignored or that those in power are failing to do enough.

Mass shootings have become a policy concern at all levels of our government. At the national level, we see polarization and political maneuvering preventing any practical response. Across the state, we see a spectrum of responses, from fortifying schools to yoga classes. There are millions of dollars available through Pennsylvania’s Safety and Security grants to make significant changes, and districts should capitalize on these funds. Moving forward we need to act as a community — at a local level and independent of politicized conversations — to make our schools safer.

Although the possibility of a mass shooting happening in any school is slim, that does not mean it should not be taken seriously. However, in order to best address the safety of students, we cannot afford to only look outward to perceived external threats. While preparing for rare acts of violence we must also address the interconnected factors that contribute to school safety. Unaddressed mental health disorders, drug use, and increased suicide attempts are real threats that impact students on a daily basis.

We must sustain a nuanced conversation about mental health, which will help break the stigma and identify areas where we need additional support. We need to make our current resources more visible and accessible while also exploring new means. Normalizing mental health care can improve student performance by fostering an environment where they are not afraid to seek help for a wide range of issues. Local school boards should add additional school counselors, mandate youth mental health first aid and de-escalation training, and deepen community partnerships.

Better communication with the community can also improve safety. Conversations on security are often limited to meetings out of the public eye. This can be reasonable for some topics, but schools would benefit from parental and student input. Safety is a community effort. It takes a united front to keep our communities safe, and school boards should establish committees that hear and integrate those perspectives.

Every school will require different approaches, however better communication and mental health needs to be part of the equation. With issues this important, we cannot afford school boards reacting impulsively to national news. We cannot afford to throw mud at a wall and see what sticks. We must act with consideration to all aspects of safety, security and wellness, and address these issues comprehensively.

Kyle Esposito
East Rockhill Township

Originally Published in the Intelligencer and Bucks County Herald