I have some real problems with the political leadership in my area. It isn’t specifically that they are Republicans. If that were the reason I wouldn’t like most of my family or many of our friends. It is the political demeanor so many of the political leaders seem to possess.
The overriding character to be politically successful in the area seems to include a bit of disdain for opposition or at least disrespect for opposition, a little snobbishness, a touch of nastiness, smart alecky, globally uncaring and maybe even a bit hypocritical. In my opinion, at least some of those traits fit each of our legislative representatives in Senate District 36.
What got me thinking about this was a recent Bible study discussion about the end of Matthew 5. At the forefront of my thought has been the idea that I am to live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward me. Do any politicians do that? I read an article in Politics in Minnesota about Rep. Mary Liz Holberg. In the article Briana Bierschbach quotes former Republican State Representative Neil Peterson describing Mary Liz Holberg as:
“She can really be nasty. I know we didn’t agree on some things, but she dealt with things in her own, specific way.”
The article was not about Holberg’s nastiness, but that quote really struck me. Should a person directly representing 40,000 Minnesotans, and indirectly the entire state, be nasty and vengeful? Or should that person be generous and gracious? I guess it is just my opinion, but I think a person we elect to represent us should be kind, circumspect, empathetic and maybe even a little chivalrous. I know that is asking a lot and maybe the nature of politics preclude that, but am I wrong to say that should be the ideal?
Is it kind for Dave Thompson or Pat Garofalo to lob insults at a leader elected to represent a large group of people simply because they disagree? Is it considerate to say in “Dave’s perfect world” you don’t exist to a Labor leader? Is it good-mannered for Pat to go on MPR and demand a personal thank you from education leaders for funding education, something I think he is elected to do and required by law to do? What does it say about Mary Liz Holberg when she got so upset that the Override 6 were not punished enough by Speaker Seifert, that she quit attending caucus meetings and joined Tom Emmer in trying to embarrass him and the rest of Republican Leadership?
The political negativity goes on at every level in the district. There is a popular school board member in Farmington who admits he is not nice to the administration or the rest of the board. In Lakeville the Mayor wouldn’t accept a generous gift from a council member because of politics. And in our district, Republican leaders worked to unseat Pat Garofalo in 2006, attempting to replace him because he wasn’t Republican enough. Pat learned his lesson and has been loyal ever since, but what have the rest of us learned? Is that what we want?
Whether Republican or DFL, shouldn’t we hold the political leaders we nominate and elect to a higher standard? When we consider a leader shouldn’t they be both effective and respectful? I hope we can all agree that insults, egocentric actions and revenge are not the best ways to be respectful or to be leaders.
A current Republican legislator, who wished to remain anonymous in the Politics in Minnesota article said of Holberg’s decision to lead the Ways and Means Committee and to be effective:
“She would have to play nice a bit more, I’m sure the choice wasn’t easy, but she made it.”
Should it really be a hard choice to make to play nice?
Matthew 5: 46-48 – The Message
“If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”