Can We All Get Along?
In recent days in the Idaho political blogosphere, there's been a discussion about civility in politics -- specifically, if a reporter gets an interview with a controversial Congressman, is he not "doing his job" if he treats said Congressman respectfully? Two viewpoints on this can be found from the reporter and the critics at the highlighted links. My personal opinion is that we need more civility in politics -- something that's been lacking recently, both in Idaho and on the national stage. Now, I've been guilty of mocking and belittling Congressman Sali, but that doesn't mean that I won't treat him respectfully when I have the occasion to interact with him personally. It just doesn't do anyone any good to cut off lines of communication.
To that end, I had a nice discussion over hot chocolate and smoothies with Congressman Bill Sali's Communications Director, Wayne Hoffman, yesterday afternoon. Here's a picture:
Mr. Hoffman had E-mailed me to find out why a lifelong Republican like myself isn't supporting his boss, and why I now consider myself a Democrat when it comes to state politics. We courteously exchanged views for about an hour, and while neither of us changed the other's mind, it was a good chance for both of us to better understand where the other camp is coming from. (As an added bonus, I was able to put in a pitch for Mr. Hoffman's boss to support increased submarine funding.) Wayne pointed out that he recently interacted with Mr. Sali's opponent for both the 2006 and 2008 elections, Larry Grant, and because both behaved with civility and decorum, it was a positive experience. As a result of this personal interaction, I'm sure I'll be more likely to get an answer when I look for a quote from Mr. Sali on whatever "gotcha" (or real) questions I come up with as the campaign heats up. Hopefully Mr. Grant's supporters will realize, as the election gets closer, that bomb-throwing and name-calling aren't going to get the residents of this district to replace Mr. Sali -- it'll be reasoned discourse that convinces them that having a moderate voice in the majority party in the House will do the most good for the state.