2017-10-04 / Editorials

Can’t we all just work together?

Other Voices
Mitch Clarke

I’ve made no secret in this space of my desire for more civility in politics and in life.

I’m sick of the sniping. I’m sick of the hate. I’m sick of politicians who love party more than nation. News flash, kids: You weren’t elected to represent a political party. You were elected to represent all of the people in your district. And that includes the ones who voted against you.

Today, we have politicians who apparently can’t say anything good about themselves or their positions, so they resort to attacking the other party with every little tidbit they can find, whether it’s true or not. And it’s not just the politicians. It’s all of us, the media and public included.

Watched some of the so-called “news” shows on TV or listened to some talk radio hosts lately? To them, it’s great sport to attack the other side, to call names, to embellish the truth for the sake of building an audience.

This, sadly, is what passes for political discourse in our country today. If I disagree with you, you are more than just wrong. You are stupid. Or worse, you are evil. You are the enemy.

One of the problems with this is it infects the rest of us. We get angry at the driver who want let us into traffic. We assign sinister motives to the more innocuous things. Some of the crazier among us make death threats against people with differing thoughts.

I’m not suggesting that we all agree. Just the opposite, in fact. One of our most fundamental rights as Americans — and, it can be argued, our most important right — is the right to stand in opposition to the government, and thus, to each other.

Partisan politics is what the Founding Fathers had in mind all along. It guarantees that the minority viewpoint is heard. And it bears reminding that the Founding Fathers were a collection of men who had a diversity of strong opinion.

There were great debates about the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the powers of the president, how to elect member of Congress. You know what the Founders did? They sat together and talked out issues. They reached consensus. They compromised.

But in the world of modern politics, compromise is a four-letter word. Our elected officials are too busy grandstanding for the folks back home, standing stubbornly on some ideological principle to impress the voters instead of seeking real, meaningful answers.

Frankly, that’s idiotic. Every one of us compromises every day. We compromise with our spouses, our children, our parents, our bosses, our co-workers, our friends. Every. Single Day.

Ronald Reagan was probably the best president of my lifetime. Faced with a Democratic Congress, Reagan reached out to the other side. He and Speaker Tip O’Neill famously met regularly in the White House residence, drank Scotch and talked about the country. They developed a respect for each other. Each gave a little. They compromised.

And they got things done. Reagan may not have gotten 100 percent of what he wanted. But he got a damn sight more than he would have if he had acted like today’s politicians, retreating into their corners and refusing to talk to the other side.

America is a great country. But it’s not perfect and democracy takes hard work. Let’s all stop hating the other side and start working together to fix what’s wrong.

Mitch Clarke, a native of Blakely, is the editor of AccessWDUN. com in Gainesville. He can be contacted at mitch.clarke @gmail.com. Read previous columns at www.accesswdun.com/ blog/mitch.

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