Although I’ve been a Contributor for Red County for nearly 2 ½ years now, I’ve continued to imagine an idealized blog I think of as We The Purple … where posts are more aimed at building on the common ground between the Reds and the Blues. It’s sort of my American Dream. Frankly, I was pretty much ready to give up on anything about that dream becoming a reality, as I observed the sad spectacle of those using the recent tragedy in Tucson to disseminate hatred for their political opponents. Thankfully, with the passing of time, the balance of commentaries has shifted quite heavily towards more sanity and truth. Along with these more rational and edifying words, have come some worthwhile suggestions for concrete actions that can be taken to move our nation in the direction of my American Dream. One of these is the idea put forward by Colorado’s U.S. Senator (D) Mark Udall that, for the upcoming State of the Union speech, Democrats and Republicans sit together rather than dividing up by party. I think this could be an excellent first step in the right direction.
I realize some may say that Udall’s suggestion is nothing more than empty symbolism. Of course, it would be symbolic but I don’t see it as being empty. I can remember participating in a TweetChat group around the time the Tea Party started forming. During one session, one participant commented on “those across the aisle” and stated that he wanted to “destroy them”. My @Reply to him was to remind him that “those across the aisle” are our fellow Americans and that aiming to “destroy them” was not appropriate. Since following Udall’s suggestion would mean that Reds and Blues wouldn’t actually have an aisle between them, it should make it easier for them to see each other as fellow Americans.
Others may say that Udall’s suggestion seems like a typical Liberal reaction, looking for an opportunity for us all to hold hands and sing Cumbayah. I suppose some may have that sense in doing this but I see it as an action that can begin to effect positive differences in the way our elected Representatives work together. My views on this come from the practical experience of having run a network of office equipment Dealers for over a decade. One of the biggest advantages to using a Dealer network, as a channel of distribution, is that you have the opportunity to have your products and/or services represented by the strongest independent office equipment companies in their respective markets. One of the biggest challenges with this is that you’re working with the strongest independent office equipment companies in their respective markets … underline the word independent … and having them work together seamlessly with their fellow Dealers doesn’t come naturally. One of the best strategies for overcoming this challenge is to get the Dealers together regularly, giving them many opportunities to socialize. When you’ve had brunch with your neighboring Dealer at the Moana Surfrider and you’ve taken a picture of him and his Wife, as they shop along Kalakaua Boulevard, it becomes much more difficult to be stiff-necked with that guy the next time a Dealer Territory dispute arises. I see Udall’s “Let’s sit together!” suggestion as holding this same potential for our elected Representatives.
One aspect of Udall’s suggestion that makes it more likely to be a “Cumbayah moment of empty symbolism” is that it’s a suggestion for a one time event. To really effect positive differences in the way our elected Representatives work together, I suggest that this step should be applied in general and not just for the State of the Union speech. My thinking is that, if our Senators and Members of Congress regularly find themselves in circumstances where they’re less self conscious about expressing views that may conflict with the stance of the party they’ve chosen to align with, it’s more likely that they will succeed in expressing the views of those who they’ve been elected to represent. According to Carl Anderson’s new book, Beyond a House Divided: The Moral Consensus Ignored by Washington, Wall Street and the Media, “In dealing with many high profile issues, we have found consensus where conventional wisdom would have us believe it is most unlikely: on the issues of religion in public life, abortion, marriage, and the role of government, among others.” According to this, We The People are, in fact, We The Purple. If so, all the more reason for eliminating artificial barriers that prevent this productive environment from being a reality and instead, foster a counterproductive atmosphere.
Finally, I want to suggest that, if this step can be taken, that we not stop there. One question I haven’t addressed here is: Why have our Senators and Members of Congress been sitting separately, by party, for State of the Union speeches up to now? The answer is that it’s just been a custom. There is no requirement to do so. With that in mind, I think the time is right for us to take a close look at all the routines our elected officials follow that aren’t requirements. The goal in doing this, of course, would be to determine if these routines should be replaced with methods that are more effective for our elected officials in truly being our Representatives.
Let’s Sit Together
Submitted by Craig Williams (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 15:17.
+-Gary, I wholeheartedly agree with you! We are all citizens of the same great country and no matter what our political differences we are all due respect and civility.
Our state and country is in fiscal crisis, and fighting over deck chairs while the ship sinks is foolish.
– Craig Williams
Submitted by Michael Frome (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 16:50.
+-Hi Gary, I’m going to not exactly disagree with you in spirit, but would like to add my observations as a neophyte in the political realm.
I have in the past (as I still do) been able to see and even articulate different sides of a policy argument, even when thinking about a policy in which I’ve decided my position…indeed, such thinking is needed to determine one’s position.
Having said that, I see myself as a historically moderate independent who has been pushed with great force directly into the conservative camp. There are some aspects of conservative ideology that I quite frankly disagree with; however, in the face of a liberal agenda, relentlessly pursued, and which in my opinion has both the capacity and aim of destroying aspects of my freedom that I hold dear, I must choose a side and act upon that choice with vigor.
In short, my view is that the current liberal movement as embodied by the democrat party has an aim to unlawfully restrict my exercise of freedom, and the conservative movement embodied by the republicans…much less so.
In my experience, the greatest damage is done when these two groups actually are acting in concert, because it often represents an unholy compromise that yields principles to expediency.
Seating by State
Submitted by Jon Russell (not verified) on Sun, 2011-01-16 20:30.
+-I think they should be seated by State Delegation. The States they represent are more important than party politics.
Seating by State
Submitted by Gary Wiram on Mon, 2011-01-17 07:19.
+-Thanks for the suggestion, Jon. I very nearly included that suggestion in my article. However, I think this is a good idea for State legislatures too.
seating by delegation
Submitted by Michael Frome (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 10:32.
+-I really like that idea!
It would serve as a reminder to our representatives (of both parties) that there exists within their constituency people of different opinions who are also entitled to be heard and whose concerns must be weighed.
Perhaps it would provide a better mechanism to demonstrate to them that they owe their allegiance and effort to all of their constituency, not only their base. Hard to say. Perhaps it would just make everybody really uncomfortable until someone had the gumption to propose changing the rules back to “party seating”…it would be an interesting experiment.
seating by state delegation
Submitted by Craig Williams (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 17:03.
+-An excellent idea Jon!
In memory of Judge Roll in particular
Submitted by David Knight (not verified) on Mon, 2011-01-17 18:52.
+-I would be more in disagreement. While I appreciate the need to keep a civil tongue, and avoid unfounded and personal accusations, there has been all too much R’s and D’s ganging up against the people. When politicians get along too well, all their friends get bailouts and the public gets the bill.
They are indeed a political class which walk around airport body scanners and exempt themselves from mandatory federal health plans. This is why there is a tea party. There is absolutely NO mandate for ANY more laws, especially in the realm of gun control for the little gal.
If they want to have a little friendly competition to see how many “oh so well intentioned but” repressive laws they can lift off our backs, that might be a good place to start. The FDA for instance, would make a fine consumer advisory panel – a place from which they can justify all those decisions made on our behalf – to all the other advisory organizations that will spring up to guide consumers in their quest for REAL health. They are one of the main reasons our health care system is a mess today.
Great and mighty organizations seek to mislead us – and as in the past – will stop at NOTHING to achieve their ends. In memory of the Assassinated Judge – who was a true constitutionalist and hero to our country – we could stand a bipartisan effort to return to the principles that made this nation great, the original intent of the constitution that we swear an oath to.
Submitted by Edmundg (not verified) on Tue, 2011-01-18 01:39.
+-Horse manure! Now, I know that there is a huge push for civility in political discourse, but it is only in one direction—we conservatives must be civil, whilst the left has no such restrictions. Consider the “Daily Kos” printing a headline shortly after the Tucson shooting: “Mission Accomplished, Sarah Palin!”
What many do not yet realize is that there are very few Democrats remaining in American politics. That party has been usurped by communists. Yes, yes, I realize that they prefer other names, such as liberal, progressive, social democrat, socialist, state capitalist, etc. But you can paint a jackass with zebra stripes all you want; it is still a jackass. These are communists and they are hell-bent upon overthrowing the greatest Republic ever. Therefore, they are the enemy!
What they are doing is illegal and unConstitutional, and I resent it.
Hahahahahaha, yup, you’ve got
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2011-01-18 14:05.
+-Hahahahahaha, yup, you’ve got us Edmundg, we’re communists, all of us. Because, as you well know there’s a pretty straight line between “healthcare for poor people” and “lets overthrow the government and do only what the government tells us to”. What’s worse than that is that not only are we communists but we’re actually attempting to destroy America. It’s probably because we hate all of the good that America does, because as well as know communists are also all godless and actually are the creation of the devil to destroy mankind as we know it. It starts with protecting the poor, and who knows, after that maybe ensuring clean drinking water and then BLAMO, instant American destruction.
What’s especially fiendish is that, in an age of 24-7 news coverage, we’ve managed to usurp an entire political party and have just lying in wait for when we can send out the secret communist signal to have all Democrats rise up and destroy the government from within. Why we didn’t take over the Republican party, which would be far less obvious, is beyond me (especially since we got together as communists have been unable to do in the past and decided to take over a national political party at all levels). Oh well, what can you do…
I do hope you realize that I’m being fully facetious and am really just mocking the absurdity of your claim. I mean, at least disagree with me on issues in an intelligent manner like a rational person, but please try to stay away from the conspiracy-theory type broad-based personal attacks. They come across as rather, well, desperate.
I agree with the point of this post though, I think the idea of sitting together at the SOTU is a great idea.