Op-Ed: The Yates County Collaboration


For political conservatives, Yates County, New York lies deep behind enemy lines. 

Situated in the west-central part of a state that has featured some of the most heated battles between modern conservatism and liberalism, the county seems a highly unlikely place to find a reassuring example of inter-party collaboration. But that is exactly what happened last month.

July’s final day found Yates County’s Democratic and Republican committees co-sponsoring a free concert on Yates County’s Court Yard Lawn, featuring Beatles cover band Mr. Mustard. Flying in the face of rhetoric spewing from both extremes of the political divide, Yates County’s adversarial political rivals, for an evening, buried their hatchets and offered Yates County citizens of all political persuasions an opportunity to come together, enjoy some good music and good food, and interact with each other in a non-threatening and non-political way…despite the clear understanding that the event was sponsored by political parties.

And yes, this happened in 2019.

In the white-hot furnace of modern politics, Yates County Republicans and Democrats, through their act of social collaboration, effectively showed the rest of the nation that a cool, refreshing political breeze can still blow despite the best efforts on the part of the extremes of both parties to crank that furnace ever higher.

As cool as the festivities that took place in Yates County, New York on the evening of July 31 surely were, the most refreshing and hopeful aspects of that evening occurred in the earliest stages of the event’s planning. 

Such events don’t just magically happen. Many logistical elements and much communication must happen before an event of any size can spring to life. There must first be the desire. Then comes the willingness. Then come the magic and beauty. The beauty of the Yates County collaboration is that someone from both parties was willing to ignore the rhetoric of a political discourse gone hopelessly off the rails, reach out in good faith to counterparts on the other side of the political divide, and decide to do something for the greater, non-political good. 

Yet the greatest thing about the Yates County collaboration is the fact that the two sides probably went back to hurling flaming political arrows at each other the minute the last trash can was emptied after the event…albeit without the emotional, personal animosity that has come to define modern political interaction.

There is something soothing and reassuring when those of conflicting political philosophies, each convinced they are absolutely right while convinced their counterparts are absolutely wrong, engage in frank, honest conversation about even the hottest of hot button issues, then shake hands and part ways in sincere goodwill. Despite what 2019 suggests and 2020 threatens, it can happen with reliable regularity. Just like with the Yates County collaboration, there must be the desire, and that desire begins with a single person. It begins with that single individual’s realization that a sense of righteous resolve is forever wasted when emotion blinds us to the things that can unite us. 

For Yates County’s Democrats and Republicans, Beatles tunes and hot dogs were the uniting elements. It would be interesting to see what bridges Creek County’s political divide.   

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Brian Patrick

Brian Patrick

Brian Patrick is a native Sapulpan, and has written for the Tulsa World and Oklahoma Magazine. Patrick’s interests include history, foreign languages, cooking, and performing in community theatre.

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