Rescuing a dying breed

Published 12:27 am Thursday, October 4, 2018

A statesman is described as a skilled, experienced and respected political leader or figure, as someone who can sit down with his biggest political rival, put aside feelings and resolve issues. A statesman is a person who can compromise — not because he is weak, but because he recognizes that doing what is best for his constituents sometimes involves working with the opposition.

Where did all the statesmen and stateswomen go? It seems that so many from the top of the political food chain on down have succumbed to animosity and the “you’re with me or against me” mentality.

It’s clear that for many politicians, there’s no respect involved in the act of politicking anymore. Lack of respect for the other side and their ideas seems to be the norm. But that lack of respect can sometimes translate into another issue.

Sometimes discussion gets heated in political meetings. Sometimes elected officials feel passionate about an issue and that passion comes across in the words they speak. But when one politician accuses another politician, or staff of said government institution, of cowardice, incompetence or lying, especially in front of an audience, and when the meeting is digitally recorded to be aired on the local public access channel, that passion should be, at the very least, restrained. Slander is defined as the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.

A politician is the voice of his constituents, yes, but when that voice is used to insult and vilify others in a public meeting, perhaps fellow politicians also should try a little harder to make their own voices heard over the racket. Perhaps constituents should demand a better level of civility — this applies to the local board of commissioners on up to the highest office in the land.

Where have all the statesmen gone?

This editorial was first printed on Jan. 17, 2017. It has been updated, but only slightly, to reflect the ongoing issue of a lack of civility in the political environment.