Politics & Government

November 2, 2012

Neighbors don’t let politics come between them

It really is possible for people with different political views to enjoy each other.

It really is possible for people with different political views to enjoy each other.

At least it is for the Lamps and Lieses, next-door neighbors in North Riverside for 15 years.

They’re neighborly neighbors.

They borrow from each other, help each other and talk to each other about grandchildren, grubs in the grass, possible roof damage after a storm and who moved in down the street.

In fact, they talk about just everything – except politics.

Ross and Linda Lamp are loyal Republicans. Alan and Robin Lies are avid Democrats. And both families have campaign signs in their yards that reflect those choices.

As Tuesday’s Election Day approaches, the Lamps and Lieses are doing their part to get the message out.

In the Lamps’ yard, you’ll see signs supporting Mitt Romney and other Republicans. A few feet away in the Lies’ yard are signs proclaiming Barack Obama and other Democrats.

But they don’t fuss with each about their different politics.

“Politics are part of life,” Ross Lamp said. “That’s part of the wonderment of living in America. We have the freedoms to have different options, choices and preferences. And yet we can live together.”

Even next door.

“They’re storybook neighbors,” Alan Lies said of the Lamps.

They even share humor over the signs. “Hey, your sign is blocking mine.” And then laugh about it.

“No one would ever know from our conversations that we have different politics – until they see our signs,” Linda Lamp said.

Not quite what you would expect to hear at a time when political voices are screaming in our ears. Civil discourse can be drowned out by the noise.

“It’s almost popular to be very negative and against the other parties in a very mean way,” Robin Lies said. “All the talk shows, the nightly news programs. They yell and scream at each other. It’s disrespectful of each other and of the politicians.”

Linda Lamp agreed.

“We’re grieved over how uncivil our civilization has become over these issues,” she said. “We’re Christians, and we make decisions based on that. But if our politics causes us to destroy or vilify our neighbor, then what good is the politics? It defeats everything. We misuse freedoms. People get carried away. We’re more valuable to each other than we realize.”

Unfortunately, Ross Lamp said, “For some people, anger is a state of their life. That’s not healthy or productive. For a neighborhood, it doesn’t bode well to have a bunch of angry people.”

The Lamps and Lieses have put the same campaign sign in their yards. Both had “No” vote signs on the Sedgwick County casino question in 2007, Linda Lamp said.

In 2008, the Lamps put out a “Sarah” sign, as in Sarah Palin, to go with their other Republican campaign signs. A day later, one of Alan Lies’ Democrat friends, who lives about a block away, called and said someone had stuck the Sarah and other GOP signs in his yard.

Sure enough, they had been stolen out of the Lamps’ yard.

“So we brought them back and put them in their yard,” Alan Lies said.

It was the neighborly thing to do. They probably could discuss politics, but what’s the point?

“We already know where the other stands,” Ross Lamp said.

The two families have been getting along since the get-go.

Shortly after Alan and Robin moved in and were getting ready for their wedding, Ross Lamp mowed their grass because he knew they were busy. Last spring, Alan helped Ross with his fence.

“We have a great relationship,” Robin Lies said. “They’re saints.”

Their friendship seems to surprise some new folks who move into the neighborhood. During a recent annual September block party, one of the new neighbors had seen the competing signs and asked Alan Lies, “Do you get along with your neighbor?”

“I told him, ‘Why, yeah,’ ” Alan Lies said. “The neighbor concept is more important to us than politics.”

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