Dear Editor:

Hello, my name is Elisabeth Maurus. I moved to Decorah just over four years ago. One of the things that really amazes me about this wonderful place, is the sense of community I’ve witnessed. I’ve both experienced and observed people’s willingness to show up for one another and lend a hand time after time. 

Hopefully, I’ve also been on the giving end of what I view, less of as an exchange but rather an innate, given sense of how people are supposed to behave. It’s one of the things that drew me back to the Midwest after 15 years of living on the West Coast. 

I grew up in Rock Island, Ill. in the Quad Cities. So, while I never want to get “political,” I did feel compelled to write and express my support and enthusiasm for Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

Hailing from the QC, I’ve witnessed firsthand how hard the industrial Midwest has been hit. Plant closures, mostly due to outsourcing and automation have transformed my hometown and not for the better. One thing I struggle with is how the narrative gets twisted. I experience a tendency for the tribal in us to blame the “others” for this. I see it dividing us and making us suspicious and hateful towards one another. 

In my opinion, the real problem is greed. The world is changing so quickly and the jobs people relied on to make a dignified living are disappearing. Three individuals hold more wealth than the bottom half of our population. The average CEO makes 360 times what its lowest paid employee makes. I do not wish to demonize or punish the wealthy and successful (good for them, I hope to be one of them) but point out that if someone works 40 hours a week in this great country, they should be able to afford housing, nutritious food, healthcare and education for themselves and their families. 

Bernie Sanders has been speaking on this topic for over 30 years, one that’s finally getting some attention. Many corporations that make billions of dollars are not paying taxes yet their workers are publicly educated, travel on publicly funded roads and rely on our brave publicly paid first responders.  

This income inequality is, in my opinion what is fracturing our nation. For the first time ever, life expectancy has been on the decline these past three years. They call them diseases of despair, addiction and suicide. Bernie Sanders asks “are you willing to fight for a person you don’t know as much as you’re willing to fight for yourself?” 

And while some of us may be able to answer that question with varying degrees of passion, it brings me back to the notion of community. When our neighbors’ lives are good, our lives are good. Whether it’s in the sense of encountering happy, helpful people at the grocery store, someone taking care of their home and their lawn, children befriending children at school that come from safe and joyful hom8pt es, Sen. Sanders message encouraging us to stick together and stick up for ourselves is one way there.  

I encourage anyone to research Sen. Sanders and understand his message beyond the sound bites your chosen news outlet filters to you. Furthermore, before I take up too much more of your or your readers time, assert that climate change is a threat that scientists say will cause massive droughts across the Midwest. 

Having a president that protects our planet and its people is of urgent importance. This is not just some “hips & yips nonsense” as one of my more conservative and dear friends in the country and I playfully joke about. Thanks for your time. Wishing you all a joyful and prosperous New Year.

Elisabeth Maurus