Monday, September 11, 2006

Civility First

I just read a great post by Lisa Johnson, who is running for the Utah Legislature in Draper. I have enjoyed Lisa's blog and her comments over the last several weeks. Lisa is a great Utahn and would make a *GREAT* representative in the Utah legislature.

I encourage everyone to read Lisa's entry, where she wrote about a campaign event where both Congressman Jim Matheson and Senator Orrin Hatch were present. And they were being *civil* to each other! Some observers were shocked that the Congressman and Senator were so kind to each other... but a campaign volunteer pointed out that civility is SO important, and being kind to each other is the right thing to do.

I am afraid that civility is a lost virtue in American politics. Sometimes we want to be so *RIGHT* about our political ideas that we forget how to get along with each other. And I can't speak for all politicians, but I don't think the problem is actually with the politicians, but with the political pundits and voices of opinion who write letters to the editor. These so-called-experts like to do all the defining of what the Democrats believe, or what the Republicans have to say, but aren't really down in the trenches doing the hard work at hand. That's just my opinion, by the way. :-)

Last night at stake choir practice, a faithful choir singer met me in the hallway as I made my way into the stake center chapel. She couldn't WAIT to tell me that she is a Democrat and is so excited to support me in my campaign. Her husband, however, is a staunch Republican - which I think would make for some pretty interesting dinner conversations! Her teenage daughters were also there, but call themselves republicans... and were bugged that I am running as a Democrat. One even went so far to say that she was "disappointed" to see my signs and literature at the Iron County Democrats booth. Whatever!! I chalked her comments up to "youth and inexperience."

Their mother and I had to remind these good young women (and they are GOOD young women) that it doesn't matter what political party someone belongs to... what is important is that we have good people on both sides of the political aisle, that we have good ideas to choose from, and that we just can't get caught up in the political infighting that exists everywhere we go. We can't even open a newspaper without one side or the other throwing out garbage about their opponents. We are so stuck on our "side" that we forget that we're just dealing with people and their ideas to solve society's problems.

I have always believed that everybody in America wants the same thing: Safety and security; good education for our children; freedom; affordable health care and housing; and the very best that life has to offer. We just happen to have differences of opinion on how we will achieve these things. Unfortunately, we have lost the art of listening and understanding what the other person is saying: sometimes, we are so convinced that our political point of view is the BEST point of view that we are unwilling to listen to anything else. And when people are so closely aligned with a political party, they sometimes refuse to stop and listen to what someone on the other side might have to say, even if they would be surprised to learn that they agree with the so-called opposition.

At the Iron County Fair, I watched in awe at fair goers who took the long route around the Iron County Democrats booth to avoid talking to us. Even when we asked people if they were registered to vote, they would yell across the lawn "Yes, but I am a registered republican" as if talking to a Democrat in front of everyone would somehow invalidate their membership in the Republican party. Another woman looked me straight in the eye and said "well, we love you anyway, even if you ARE a Democrat."

Come on people. Leave the polarizing to the political pundits. As citizens of Utah and of America, we owe it to each other to work together and put aside our differences of opinion. We can choose to solve the problems that we face, or we can just keep fighting about them. I say let's workwith each other... after all, we're all in this together!

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