05 February 2014

I miss civility in politics


Last Sunday a friend of ours spotted me in the hallway at church and began heading toward me with an envelope in hand.  She handed it over to me with a big smile on her face and mentioned that they had come across it in a box of her father-in-law's things, and thought for sure that I would want it.  I recognized the handwriting from the address on the front of the envelope immediately.  It was my grandmother's.  She had really beautiful handwriting.

I opened the envelope and read the letter addressed to then-State Representative Ed Cook.  It was an invitation to my grandma and Doc Bowen's home over Labor Day weekend in 1982.  They mention in the letter that they would be with the Gees, another political family, after the parade, and presumably joining them at their home in Bremen.  Have I mentioned yet that Mr. Cook was a Democrat?  And the others were Republicans?

Doc would have served with Representative Cook while he was governor, and likely would have worked with him to some regard, across the aisle so-to-speak.  Something that would be extraordinarily uncommon today.  Even more poignant of the level of civility was this invitation.  Friends in public servitude, albeit from both sides of the aisle, enjoying each others' company over the holiday.

Where exactly did we go wrong in politics?  I fully admit to being naive upon my entry into politics, but I was only modeling what I knew to be right, good, and true.  Modeling what I saw in the revered leaders of a better time.  Of a more civil time.  Maybe I just miss my grandparents' wisdom in this storm.

I have to believe, or at least I really want to believe, that a majority of people feel the way I do.  That it isn't about who screams the loudest, who's out to get who, where the money comes from, or political positioning that leaves us further and further outside of the access of our own government.  I have to believe I'm not alone in wishing for more civility, for the betterment of all our people.  And that I don't, nor do they, have all the right answers....but together we just might be better off than apart.

Here's to wishing for politicians who are everything but political.  Who can weigh what is right on a scale free of bias and personal aim.  Who serve their fellow man with utmost humility and discernment.  Maybe someday.

5 comments:

Dwight said...

Yes! Thank you Kurt. This is right on the money. We have become an us vs. them, a blue vs. red, a d vs. r, a liberal vs. a conservative, rather than a 'we'. And we have have magnified the problem by using those labels for people, rather than seeing each other as people. At times I think we are headed for another blue vs. gray, another civil war, because of our incivility. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand."
I long for our politicians to stand for what is right, to be statesmen rather than politicians. I am sad to admit that I don't think that will ever happen, because what is right seems to be blurred to so many and so many others are distracted by the money and power to which you referred. I hope I am wrong.

hoosier reborn said...

Thanks Dwight. Hey, we agree on something!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kurt - Doug was quite impressed - said that's why you would be a great politician

Gary Cook said...

My dad was a true statesman in every way. If he were alive today he would be ashamed of how things are taking place in our local, state and federal governments. Dad worked for the people, not the party and that is what made him special. He worked for Indiana to be a better place for all of us to live, work and raise a family. Thank you to my brother for getting the letter into Kurt's hands and for Kurt to write such a touching story. May our political leaders someday realize that the government belongs to the people, not the D's or R's.

David Lloyd said...

I agree civility is good, and that it is corruption affecting both sides of the isle that has caused the current climate of distrust. However, it is the struggle of opposing views that keeps us free. I would not trust a Government that had too much cooperation between parties, because it is conflict that makes us careful. Conflict preserves freedom. We should be civil opponents, but we must always have opponents.