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Pondering the future of our grandchildren

“Do you think democracy will survive in 100 or 200 years?”

My Swedish friend was in town for Thanksgiving — lured once again by grandchildren and that peculiar Southern delicacy served at the neighborhood chicken stews every November.

She and her husband have visited usually once a year for nearly 18 years. She and I always reserve a brief time to talk politics.

She is my insight into the European mind. I am for her that rare breed that makes her continent wince: A self-confessed, unrepentant Trump voter. I haven’t told her that nearly 73 percent of Davie County voted for Trump. I’m one of the few she knows who admits it.

Her low opinion of the President hasn’t changed despite a year passing without the sky falling.

She still prefers Hillary. She admired Jeb Bush. She has come to admire Ronald Reagan. Trump, she diagnoses, is a narcissist.

Who can disagree?

She likes solar and wind power. Cheaper coal and oil are still fine with me. America’s wind and water have never been cleaner. Dirty China can clean up its pollution when it wants.

We both agreed that America’s foreign interventions have often made matters worse, not better.

Projecting the future of democracy, however, caused me to pause.

Democracy doesn’t have many friends in South America, or in Africa, or in the Middle East except for Israel, or in Asia except for the billion-strong India. Old Europe is giving way to socialism and religious violence. North America is the beacon of democracy, but even our younger generations are showing a proclivity to socialism. With the mere promise of free college, young people were willing to embrace socialist Bernie Sanders in the last election.

The younger generation doesn’t seem to cherish our hard-won freedoms and cozies up too closely with a government that promises to smooth all of life’s rough edges.

The political gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers is wide. What does the future hold for our grandchildren?

My Swedish friend predicted the continued rise of China into the world’s superpower, supplanting America on the world stage. Russia, of course, continues to worry its elderly Scandinavian neighbors who remember World War II’s horrors.

Forgetting the lessons of that awful war worries both of us, and the next generations don’t seem to be learning them in the classrooms. Our World War II veterans are quickly disappearing, reminders of the generation who sacrificed generously for freedom.

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They go how fast? The N.C. Department of Transportation recently measured speeds on Baltimore Road in eastern Davie County after a tragic accident claimed three young people. The average speed on that 55 mph zone country road was a staggering 64. Oddly, the DOT suggested against lowering the speed limit in response to the fatalities. Doing so, the DOT reasoned, might make the problem worse as the speeders encountered those abiding by the posted speeds. The DOT didn’t use the same logic in Bermuda Run. At the town board’s request, the speed limit on US 158 from the Yadkin River west was lowered this week to 35 mph. I had just come to grips with the flashing light warning me to slow down to 45 mph.

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The recent Clemmons municipal election hinged on the fear that DOT will one day install a median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road. I had a clue the incumbents were in trouble when a well-respected former legislator, new to Clemmons, asked about the fuss. “I hate medians,” she said. I have jokingly come to refer to them as “mediums,” but voters found little humor in the thought of a traffic divider.

— Dwight Sparks