Last month Arizona Senator Jeff Flake delivered a declaration on the floor of the Senate worthy of Daniel Webster, about how, lately, “…our democracy is more defined by our discord and our dysfunction than by our own values and principles.”
He offered a passionate plea that “We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country. The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”
In a recent editorial (In a Democracy, There Can Be No Bystanders), Flake talks about the responses he’s received “By the electronic bushel, in thousands of calls and letters… A deeply personal outpouring,” Flake adds, “the scale of which has stunned and humbled me.
“From Arizona, from all over the country and from abroad. From all across the political map, too. Some wrote to say that they watched the speech with their children, or that they read it aloud to them. ‘I try to teach my kids to respect others,’ wrote one man. ‘The current resident of the White House is not the example I want my kids to follow.’
“ ‘As a die-hard Democrat, I have to say that before Trump came into office, you were kinda low on my list of senators to admire,’ one woman wrote. ‘But I have changed that stance.’
Another man wrote, ‘I am a registered Republican, but I am ashamed of what my party has become.’
Now is the time to encourage representatives and senators to unite around what they know to be right.
Let’s remind them to put the interests of the country ahead of the interests of a vocal minority.
Let’s tell them to stop the finger-pointing, and start looking at their own responsibilities to the entire country they serve.
And let’s give them a message we can all support:
Try to see those on the other side of the aisle as colleagues not enemies.
Try working together based on common goals rather than opposing everything the other side proposes.
Try to act less political and more pragmatic.
Try to remember that we are all in this together, and that we are stronger because of our diversity, not only of race and color but creed, as well.
Let’s try to talk less about rights and more about our responsibilities to each other.
Let’s recognize that it’s okay to be skeptical, but destructive to be relentlessly cynical because cynicism is the poison that feeds our worst impulses.
Let’s try to be more civil and less profane.
Let’s recognize that despite our differences, the fundamental beliefs that makes us Americans are the shared values of liberty, equality and diversity.
Let’s try to live up to those values for ourselves, our children, our communities and the country.
Too much to hope for?
Let’s try, anyway.