CNN Digital Expansion 2017 Jim Acosta

Every four years, the presidential election sweeps through our communities, sowing division as candidates look for those few swing votes that will tip the state in their favor, with its 20 electoral college votes.

We’re only now recovering from the 2016 race. Most of us have learned how to get through a family gathering without falling into a bespittled rage, or how to see our neighbors as more than the campaign signs they put in their front yard.

But it’s hard. The way people are reacting to Acosta’s appearance reminds us of that. The coming months will be ugly and divisive. We will want to tear apart at the seams, along the neighborhood lines where the campaign signs change over.

On his Twitter page, Acosta has pinned a message for those who question the media’s role:

“We are not the enemy of the people. I am not your enemy. You are not my enemy. It is wrong to call your fellow Americans the enemy. We are all on the same team. We are all Americans.”

As we lean into the 2020 presidential election cycle, I hope we can remember too the values — decency, hard work, friendliness — that we like to think bind us together across southwestern Pennsylvania. It won’t be easy, but we’re better than our base instincts.

When Acosta comes to Pittsburgh, come out to hear him speak and to get to know him better as a person, rather than as someone you see only on television. No one will ask you to give up your ideology or political beliefs; you just have to be open to seeing him, like all of us, as fellow Americans.

The founding director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, Andy Conte writes the On Media column at NEXTpittsburgh with support from The Heinz Endowments. You can find all of his columns here, and you can reach him at PittsburghPublicEditor@gmail.com. Andy serves on the board of directors for the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania. The CMI is sponsoring Jim Acosta’s Feb. 6 appearance at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. 

Andrew Conte

Andrew Conte, founding director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, writes the On Media column at NEXTpittsburgh with support from The Heinz Endowments.