Differences of Opinion Bolster Our Democracy


Frank Komola retired in 2012 following a 23 year career at UPS. He belongs to the retirees chapter of Local 25, International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Boston. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Haverhill. His commentaries are heard Fridays on 97.9 WHAV.

I have a hunch that no sooner will I finish posting this column, then someone will post a comment about socialistic leanings that I supposedly hold, or that of the media that carries this column. But, that’s what democracy is all about.

Over the course of time leading up to the recent presidential election and for the four months since, a lot of opinions have been shared by some individuals. It seems that the comments made by the president’s tweets have emboldened a number of people to come front and center with their feelings.

Since this is a democracy, everyone has the right to an opinion, whether anyone else agrees with it or not. And I wholeheartedly agree with that premise. Having said that, I also believe the system works both ways. You have your opinion and I have mine.

So first off, to those who think some of us are socialists, if we truly were socialists, does anyone believe that if we really were, we’d give everyone the opportunity to vent their emotions in response to anything anyone might say? One person stood up to a tank in Tianamen Square in China. That’s a pretty restrictive society, some might call it a socialist government. Has anyone heard from the guy since? Did he get the chance to go to the webpage of a radio station and vent his frustrations? Did he carry a sign in opposition to the government in front of a government building? Did he have the opportunity to express his opinion to local businesses about the Chinese media and try to dissuade them from supporting that same media? He disappeared a few short days later along with the newspaper that covered his brave act. Some people think that the Massachusetts state government is a socialist hotbed, but the people who said it and continue to say it, didn’t disappear the minute the spotlight went out on their expression of their beliefs, their criticism, or sometimes name calling, and I doubt that they will.

There’s a lot of anger around the country right now. A lot of it is local and shows up on the pages of this radio station’s website, and in the posts on any number of Facebook pages. And the sources of these opinions have the luxury of doing so anonymously. If I were a socialist, I’d advocate for it to be silenced. But I don’t think it should be.

But what I do think is that it’s easy to criticize almost anything.

What isn’t so easy is to come up with and advocate for a position you believe in, to go before a room, a hall or an entire city, a city of diverse opinions, cultures, and beliefs. It isn’t easy to get up in front of a city council meeting, a school committee meeting or a legislative hearing, advocate for your position and take the criticism that comes with the territory.

And it’s even harder to compromise and find a middle ground than it is to shout, “my way or the highway.”

There have been times when every one of us have heard the words, “Oh yeah. Have you got a better idea?” Maybe it’s time some in this democracy step off the sidelines, stick their neck out there for a change and propose some reasonable solutions.

You’ll soon find out that it’s a lot harder to take the criticism than it is shell it out. Criticizing, advocating, and negotiating are all part of a democracy. And no one in this community or this radio station is preventing you from doing that.

4 thoughts on “Differences of Opinion Bolster Our Democracy

  1. If I post an opinion against a liberal perspective online I will be relentlessly attacked. That is why it was such a surprise to liberals the Donald Trump became president. They refused to listen they simply attack and do not allow discussion.

  2. If differences in opinion bolster our democracy someone forgot to tell liberal Democrats.

    When brain dead liberal mayor Jimmy Taxman threatened fines to the Haverhill homeowner for having signs on his front lawn for the presidential candidate he opposed I don’t think he had democracy in mind.

    When the liberal Massachusetts State Legislature refused a couple of years ago to allow the issue of defining marriage in the state to be a ballot issue, thereby allowing citizens to decide the matter, I don’t think they had democracy in mind.

    When liberals staged national boycotts of Hobby Lobby and Chik Fil A because of the opinions of the owners of those companies, I don’t think they had democracy in mind.

    When students at liberal universities from coast to coast constantly boycott and threaten conservative speakers to even step foot on their campuses, I don’t think they have democracy in mind.

    When liberals act out with hate and vitriol as the expression of their Trump Derangement Syndrome, I don’t think they have democracy in mind.

    Liberal democracy = oxymoron

  3. “Maybe it’s time some in this democracy step off the sidelines, stick their neck out there for a change and propose some reasonable solutions.” –

    Some of us have been doing this for years, some of us have done exactly what you suggest in your column for a very long time. Some of us have paid an extremely high price for doing so. Maybe some believe that these pages and other social media outlets are the only places we have advocated for our position and/or change. I know there are viewers reading these pages that know the work I do, or at least attempt to do behind the scenes. With the understanding to do so quietly, or in a public forum, not so quietly. I will never out those folks I have worked with, and I’m secure knowing that they know the work I do and/or have done.

    As for local Haverhill pols, readers, including the owner of WHAV know I do not run or cower in fear when challenged on a position. That of course cannot be said of some of the local pols who do not reciprocate, especially The Mayor. A Mayor who is an authoritarian, who uses social media to promote himself, but silence by banning RESPECTFUL dissent. While I do not attend city meetings frequently, I do attend forums, council meetings, and school committee meetings when of interest or at the request of others. The most famous of which was at HHS for a “Go Public” forum years ago, standing up, alone, in front of my young children to protest the fraud that the members on stage were promoting. While these members, such as Marty Meehan, Brian Dempsey, and other sycophants perpetrating a lie were called out, they got angry and not only double-downed on the lie, but tried the classic misdirect. It was a wonderful lesson for my young children to learn at their young ages. While certainly no Tianamen Square equivalent, it was an appropriate time and venue to do so.

    I personally don’t think Massachusetts is totally socialist, maybe for a few of the old-money & connected families I used to do work for, at taxpayers expense, but it is certainly authoritarian, with extreme gerrymandering to keep it that way. If there is any question to this, simply look at the vote and will of the people in that past couple decades (i.e. ballot initiatives). In particular taxes and pot, those were voted on by The People, and have been usurped or outright ignored. Is that “Democracy”? Is that reflective of a Republic? Those who have ignored such do so without fear. I do not have an answer to this because apparently The People, according to their vote, do not mind such tyranny.

    I can agree or disagree on many issues, but even with the trolls that inhabit here and other social media, and the publication I write for, I certainly won’t be silenced.