Recently, I read a short editorial in my local newspaper. It was talking about the late Senator Bob Dole, who died and how polite he was. His body laid in state at the United States Capitol Rotunda. The editorial talked about the politeness of politicians during the old days. You know, the 1980s. As an example, it mentioned how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill, two political warriors from opposite sides of the aisle who would have drinks together at the end of the day.
I remember those days when politicians would do battle in efforts to support the legislative priorities of their political party, while simultaneously demonstrating respect for their opponents. Personal attacks were rare. It was the ideas that suffered the assaults from the opposing party.
And now we find ourselves at the point where civility has all but disappeared from the political landscape. I have chosen not to point a finger in the direction of any political party, but to say the days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill would be a welcomed addition to the political arena right about now. Personal assaults from one member of our congressional house to another is nothing but a waste of breath. It certainly is as far as I’m concerned; however, politicians are, as a group, a shrewd bunch of characters. They know what plays to their constituency. They’re aware of the vitriol that populates Twitter and other social media outlets. They have an accurate pulse reading of what angers and pleases the folks who can keep them in office or vote them out the next go-round.
And then there are folks like me who would prefer civilized debate of the issues. We’d love to see a show of concern about issues that affect the least among us. We understand lobbying and special interests, but aren’t our interests special, too? Although we don’t have dollars in the amount corporate America has to throw into the mix, our families and communities need legislative attention to live the best we can. Yet, we see our elected representatives drawing lines in the sand continually, doing battle in a manner that mirrors a barroom brawl. Often, our interests are lost in the struggles, as seen on the 24/7 news cycle.
I would love to see the 535 members of the United States Congress (currently 435 in the house and 100 in the senate) work together, civilly, and purposely, without demonstrating any doubt that they are representing the interests of all American citizens. I don’t think that is too much to ask.
I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.