Breaking Barriers with Cheese

Jim Prevor
Jim Prevor

As summer comes to an end in America, we move into the fall holidays, notably Thanksgiving, but on even years, such as 2022, we also move into election season.

And this year emotions will be running high. The Senate is exactly evenly divided at 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats, with the Vice President being called on to break party-line votes. With four vacancies in the House of Representatives, the Democrats have 220 seats and the Republicans just a bit less at 211. There are state-level and local races that have all taken on more importance, particularly since the Supreme Court has moved to return important issues to state-level decision-making.

When Ronald Reagan was President, he battled with the Speaker of the House, Democrat Tip O’Neill. Their political and policy beliefs were diametrically opposed but, when President Reagan famously confronted Speaker O’Neill about some vituperative words, the speaker responded, “That’s just politics, after 6 o’clock we’re buddies, we’re friends.”

Indeed, they often shared a beer together. When political negotiations got too hot, the President was known to reset his watch to 6 p.m. and point it out to the speaker, noting it was time to be friends.

With politics so hot these days, there is something to be gained by remembering President Reagan and Speaker O’Neil. People who disagree can still respect their opponent and believe that they share the goal of building a better tomorrow, but just disagree on what tomorrow should look like and how to get there.

Specialty cheese is a bit like the diversity of political opinions… after all, it comes from an almost infinite variety of sources. Sometimes the flavor is sharp, sometimes mild. Yet peace can reign when everyone takes small bites of each, and one can even smooth the edge by using condiments and crackers… from honey, to mustard, to dried fruit, nuts and an array of breads to smooth out the taste.

It is hard to advance society if we can’t find a way to communicate. But, maybe, as the elections draw near, you can be a peace-maker in your neighborhood, using your love for great cheese as a kind of lever, to lift us all above antagonism and into a kind of cooperation.

Play some nice music, offer a nice beer, some great wine and a few of those now trendy non-alcoholic cocktails—and start people talking about things they have in common, memories they share, mutual friends, etc. It won’t mean we all agree, but if, like President Reagan and Speaker O’Neill, we can spend a little time talking with political opponents, we might find a little common ground that would allow us to work together. There is a lot of conviviality that can grow out of sharing a nice Brie.

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