What has become increasingly clear over the last decade or more is that civility and the hunt for consensus are qualities lost in the partisanship exhibited by many (most?) of our elected officials.
I do not believe that the name-calling, at times quite foul-mouthed, that we see often now from both political parties is the best way forward, and the essential stagnation of our government at the federal level for the past 10 years proves my point.
We need representatives and senators who understand that their job is to govern, to move the country forward, and not simply do what they need to do to be re-elected. The quality of the people we put in office then is the key. I was very distressed by the performance of the New York 27th electorate in November. I understand that Chris Collins has his right to his day in court and that he is innocent until proven guilty. Having said that, he put himself in position to be indicted. That says something about the man.
Moreover, can we expect him to be able to devote 100 percent of his time in office to the performance of his duties and obligations to New York 27th? I understand that many people probably voted for Collins to keep the seat Republican. The reality is, given how conservative New York 27th is, it is likely that Nate McMurray, had he won, would have been a one-term congressman.
My point is that at the top of any list of qualities our elected officials need, in addition to honesty, intelligence, and commitment, is civility. Without civility communication fails. Without communication – reasoned discourse – walls rather than bridges get built. We need legislators who will not let the pursuit of a perfect (in their view) solution get in the way of a good solution.
We are a diverse society, getting more diverse. The problems we have require consensus to solve.
Our legislators need to remember that they may have been elected by 51 percent of their district, but they work for 100 percent of the district’s population.