We Have The Right To Bear Harms, But Why Do That To Each Other?

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, January 25, 2011

“We should, Lord have mercy, not wait for something like this…”

Amen, brother.

Republican congressman Robert Hurt is spot-on.

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Our own innate goodwill and common cause, not a killer with a gun, should spur us toward more civil, bipartisan and constructive dialogue in congress and our national community.

But the killer has fired and people have died, so we really must learn how to converse across partisan divides.

No man's land-the ground between opposing trenches-is for everyone. Make it standing room-only and there will be no further need for Democratic and Republican trenches. No man's land will become, well, call it America.

That doesn't mean-and will never mean and should never mean-there cannot be differing Democratic and Republican policies and points of view. There must be. They are inherent and we need them.

As we have said before, the American eagle requires both its Left and Right wings to fly. Remove one or the other wing and what results is a slow circling descent, a death spiral. The United States of America needs the good ideas from both political sides of the aisle and we should be able to dispose of the bad ones without getting dysfunctionally ugly.

Rep. Hurt does not believe the Arizona shootings and killings were politically motivated and as it relates to where we, the people, go next it doesn't matter whether there was a political motivation or not. The point is that the shootings and killings have focused our national attention on the corrosive nature and character-or lack of character-in too much of our political rhetoric. And it has been acidic on both sides of the aisle. Refuse to admit the ironically bipartisan responsibility for the atrociously partisan rancor and we will get nowhere but back into the trenches.

And those trenches will become deeper.

Rep. Hurt sees that point. Regardless of motive, the Arizona tragedy has produced a national moment of political possibility that must be seized upon, the Republican freshman agrees.

“Absolutely. We should, Lord have mercy, not wait for something like this to take that opportunity,” Rep. Hurt said. “I look forward to looking for ways to work with people. You should recognize those things we all care about.”

Whether a Republican or a Democrat, he said during an interview, “I think we all should recognize we're working toward the same goal-a better America.”

Shaping the blueprint and blazing that journey's trail may be “hotly contested and there are competing views on how we get there-and that's fine; there should be…But by the same token we must always realize that the people here love their country very much,” he said.

Again, amen, brother.

A key component of becoming more civil in Washington, D.C. and all points north, south, east and west in the U.S. is trying to infuse campaigns and elections with more civil dialogue. For example, one struggles to recall candidate commercials saying the kinds of things Rep. Hurt said to us as a member of congress, responding to our questions. Commercials are the one place politicians have complete control over their message and how it is presented, remember.

How refreshing it would be, and how constructive, too, to hear a candidate say in a pre-election ad, “I think we all should recognize we're working toward the same goal-a better America.”

Instead of demonizing the opposing candidate and the opposing candidate's party.

To hear, “We must always realize that the people here love their country very much” about Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

Rather than demeaning the patriotism of your opponent-or hinting it doesn't exist at all-because they are in the opposing party.

Or questioning their religious convictions for the same so-called reason.

Lord, have mercy, indeed.

Political campaigns are like pots of boiling water on the stove. One can turn down the heat but it takes time to bring the water off the boil. And, if one covers the pot, even simmering heat can keep the liquid roiling until the contents are burned away and there is nothing fit for anyone in the family to consume.

Nationally, between presidential, congressional and Senate campaigns-with mid-term elections and presidential campaigns gearing up long before a president's term is over (if they gear down at all)-we seem to be in a constant state of election rancor boiling over.

Points are made in Congress-words and actions, or a refusal to act-to score political victories in the next election, not to create a better America now, today, regardless of who gets the credit because they are or are not “in power” as a majority party or the party occupying the White House.

Both parties have been guilty of such behavior through the years.

Let's unload the bullets from our mouths, instead.

Recognize that the First Amendment gives us the right to bear harms, but our words can and should do far better than wound.