03/16/13 — What it takes: Where have all the statesmen gone? Partisans have the floor

View Archive

What it takes: Where have all the statesmen gone? Partisans have the floor

The sad thing about the divide that exists across this country in the political arena is that although there are some differences, the fundamentals are the same: Most of those who serve are out to make a better nation and to leave a solid future for generations to come.

But what is scary -- well, terrifying really -- are the lengths to which partisanship has tainted the process, the possibilities and the nation's future.

When it becomes obvious that a president's agenda is to throw out members of the other party so he can control voting in Congress -- and he restricts a network's access to information because he does not like the fact that it has a conservative bent -- we have a problem.

And when an organization creates a memo outlining how to use personal attacks and private investigators to take down new Republican leaders in North Carolina, we have a reason to be really concerned.

The good old days always seem like good old days because memories soften with time.

But it seems that there used to be statesmen -- people who could put aside their partisan zeal to compromise, to negotiate and to create a path to get things done.

Tip O'Neill, Ronald Reagan -- and even to some extent, Bill Clinton -- pop to mind. And they are just a few. There are many more in the annals of the U.S. Congress.

So, what happened?

Have we really gotten to the point where this is how we are going to run this country or this state? Or, heaven forbid, is it going to get so bad that no one but power-hungry, single-focused partisans will want to run for office?

Perhaps this new attitude is a consequence of how the world has changed. Maybe our digital focus and the number of people who seem to lack communication skills are creating generations who do not know how to talk -- or to respect those with differing viewpoints.

Maybe we are so focused on looking for the "gotchas" and the flaws in any candidate that we forget that they are still human and can make mistakes and bad decisions -- and still have something to offer from those lessons learned.

And in the meantime, we sit and wonder when that next leader -- the one who really will bring this country together -- is going to emerge.

Let's hope that when he does (or perhaps it will be a she), we are not too bent on his destruction to recognize the leadership he could bring to the table.

There is still time to ask for more, to demand better and to change the caustic political scuffle that has become the norm.

And that doesn't mean stopping holding officeholders accountable -- that must be part of the new order, too. Nothing breeds power-hungry politicians like secrecy and impunity.

We can change this nation's future one politician at a time.

All it will take is the people saying they have had enough -- that they want to see real discussions about real issues held with respect and a determination to get things done.

No more power plays and no more fake "media-prompted" sessions that are nothing more than photo ops. No more threats behind the scenes and name-calling. Honest talk, honest differences and then honest compromise.

Saying you have an alternative or are against the idea that has been proposed is no longer enough. Prove it, defend it and then work to create a policy that serves the needs of this country while addressing its real problems.

This is not about your legacy or your political future. It is about leadership and the chance to change the lives of generations of Americans.

It is time that was the top priority again.

Published in Editorials on March 16, 2013 11:12 PM