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The Line

Supporters and opponents of Proposition 29 flooded the media with conflicting messages. I remember seeing one TV spot that ended by saying something like,  “A vote against Proposition 29 is a vote for big tobacco”, or maybe it said, “…a vote for lung cancer”. I don’t remember the details.

I do remember thinking how desperate it sounded. Did the people who produced and paid for that ad really think they would sway public opinion with a 2 second slogan? Did they think the electorate was so simple-minded that we would vote on a complex issue because of a one-sided, biased idea from a questionable source?

It wasn’t important to me whether or not the message was correct. The tactic the ad used was an attempt to draw a line. The line was intended to separate voters who were for big tobacco and cancer from those who were against big tobacco and cancer. That’s what raised the hair on the back of my neck.

I voted for Prop 29 but not because of that TV spot. In fact, that sophomoric attempt to manipulate my opinion caused to me to look for any possible reason to vote against it.   I was not willing to place myself on one side or another of a line that the sponsors of that ad campaign decided was going to separate good from evil. I wouldn’t buy into their attempt to make it nearly impossible for anyone to put themselves on the side of the line the ad sponsors didn’t want them on.

That’s exactly what I see the death-to-AES people trying to do and that’s a big reason why I’ve taken a stand against their campaign. They’re trying to draw a line and place everyone on one side or the other. If you’re for good, you’re on the no power plant side of the line. Everyone else is on the evil side of the line.

There’s also a presumption that if you’re on the good side of the line, you have accepted a whole lot of ideological conditions that go along with that position.

I’m hoping that like me, a lot of people in this community will question whether that is truly the line that needs to be drawn. I’m also hoping more people begin to question why it’s so important to a few individuals, that we accept the idea we must be on one side or the other of that particular line.

As far as I can see, there’s no one on the other side of the line, the pro-power plant side, at least no one with any credibility. So can there really be a line if everyone’s on the same side of it? I don’t think so.

That doesn’t mean there is no line. The line is clear and so is the choice of which side to place yourself. It comes down to a choice about how we will use the energy of the collective disapproval we share toward future electrical production in our city.

The line that has been defined (though unintentionally) by the anti-AES people is the line between the people who believe that an attempt to use brute force against AES will result in the most beneficial solution for our community and the rest of us, the people who believe constructive dialogue will produce the best result.

Don’t believe it when you hear about attempts to engage AES in the non-AES movement. Reading your manifesto or inviting the company to participate in a process that’s clearly intended to bring about its demise in Redondo Beach, is not constructive dialogue. The fact you’ve been in the same room with AES representatives and they’ve been allowed to talk does not constitute constructive dialogue, negotiation or any other type of attempt at conflict resolution.

Communication requires listening as well as talking. Negotiation requires give and take.  When you become entrenched in a position that the other side isn’t listening because they didn’t agree to do everything you want them to do, you aren’t communicating. You aren’t negotiating and you aren’t making a serious attempt to resolve your conflicts.

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