Monday, January 10, 2005


Is Congressional civility possible?

I for one hope so, because people get more done when they learn to respect and work with each other's differences of opinions.

I am not the only ones hoping so. Two representatives, Ray LaHood, a Republican from Illinois, and David Skaggs, a Democrat from Colorado have stepped out and formed the Congressional Civility Caucus:

To get beyond childish bickering and address fundamental issues, we are organizing a Congressional Civility Caucus. Our goal is to create a bipartisan group of House members that will strive for civil debate in all of our work in Washington.

The House has tried this before. In 1997, a civility retreat for about 200 House members was organized by Reps. Ray LaHood, a Republican from Illinois, and David Skaggs, a Democrat from Colorado. Members met in Hershey, Pa., in March of that year and again in 1999, but attendance dwindled. Soon thereafter, it disbanded because of a lack of interest.

Civility in Congress means more than simply calling each other "the distinguished representative" or singing Kumbaya and holding hands. Our caucus will have teeth. We will not hesitate to take a stand when the tone in Washington becomes uncivil.

Though we will continue to disagree on issues, as members of the Civility Caucus, we will respect each others' points of view in those disagreements, compromise where we are able and work to pass common sense legislation where we find common ground.

We hope this caucus will change the current dynamics in the House by injecting a voice that rises above partisanship when politics becomes more about personal attacks than about serving our constituents. Our differences do matter. But philosophical differences need not become personal destruction.

Civility in politics shouldn't be restricted to occasional ceremonies where presidents stand together on stage. It needs to include members of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle working together every day and respecting each others' differing views.

We've got more important things to do than sling mud. After all, we have a country to run.

Godspeed and good luck to them both.

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