The trauma on Capitol Hill is fresh and real. One can appreciate how rattled lawmakers have rallied around the oft-foreign notion that those of the opposing party are patriotic Americans with just different, though passionate, political views.
Because of this week’s tragic shooting, America’s congressional leaders got enough of a scare that softened their rancorous ways — at least long enough to play baseball together while praying and cheering for an injured colleague. That’s all good.
The symbolism of lining up with one another for team introductions is not lost. And having party leaders stand side-by-side for interviews (even if for the first time ever) is noble.
However, the interviews by those leaders, at least the ones I heard, tended to sound rather disingenuous when it came to what is actually being accomplished together. There were vague assurances that they pass a lot of important stuff we average Americans just don’t know about.
House Speaker Paul Ryan spoke of his friendly relationship with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s grandchildren. The best Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer, standing with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, could muster was how he goes to the Senate gym at the same time sweaty GOP leaders are there.
Kumbaya, My Lord!
By no means am I ridiculing the reality of this tragedy or the genuine fear and concern these lawmakers are experiencing. However, for this to move beyond a passing moment of civility requires more than softer voices trying to convince Americans, and perhaps themselves, that they function in healthy ways personally and professionally.
We see the evidence that suggests otherwise. We need more than a brief lowering of incendiary rhetoric and symbolic acts of unity at a sporting event.
Confession is needed — followed by long-term examples of that which is professed in midst of fear. We need a new, constructive course that goes beyond pretending to get along just fine when everyone knows better.
A more-honest response would be to admit that political self-preservation (getting re-elected in gerrymandered districts that reward extremes and protecting the interests of big donors) is the driving force under the dome. Tell us how these alliances don’t allow for healthy compromises and hinder the work that is needed for the betterment of all Americans.
It’s called confession.
Don’t tell us how you are Americans before partisans and capable of working together for the common good. Show us.
They we’ll join you in Kumbaya and God Bless America. We are already joining you in prayers for those who are experiencing the deep pain and heartache of senseless violence.
Likewise, we have some confessing and redirecting to do as well.