Grijalva: “My fight will be clean and fair.”

by David Safier

P1000158 This is the kind of feeling you hope will last, or at least have some lasting effects. The people who stood and spoke at the Promoting a Civil Discussion press conference this afternoon were Republicans and Democrats, gathered together humbly, and actually seeming like they belonged together.

Brian Miller and Jeff Rogers, chairs of the Pima County Republican and Democratic Parties, shared the opening remarks and introductions. I'm not sure if it held in every case, but Miller introduced most of the Democratic speakers, Rogers the Republicans.

No one said anything that felt to me like it was intended to score points.Everyone was properly humble and restrained. Grijalva had what I thought was the phrase which summed up the tone of the speakers:

"My fight will be clean and fair. My disagreements will be clean and fair."

Behind the speakers was a Pledge of Civil Discourse which all of them, as well as others in the state, have signed. The pledge reads, "I commit to promote a civil discussion of the issues we face."

I want to believe what I heard and felt, as I want to believe what I heard and felt as Obama called on all of us to summon the better angels of our natures at the Memorial Wednesday evening. I try to suppress the cynic in me, but I have lived with him for too many years to ignore what he whispers in my ear. So let me say, I hope the tone changes, even a little, toward more civil discourse, but I don't want to see a unilateral disarmament from the Democrats (and here, I think, the weapons metaphor is appropriate). Both sides must fight hard, but fairly, or it won't work. One side cannot do it alone.

0 responses to “Grijalva: “My fight will be clean and fair.”

  1. “I commit to promote a civil discussion of the issues we face” said the banner today at this press conference by the Pima County Democrats and Republicans.

    Speaking today were Party Chairs Jeff Rogers (D) and Brian Miller (R), plus Congressman Raul Grijalva (CD 7), LD 26 Rep. Terri Proud (for Arizona Speaker of the House Kirk Adams), LD 28 Rep. Steve Farley, Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll (District 4), City Councilmembers Steve Kozachik & Karin Uhlich, and lastly Mayor Bob Walkup.

    Also attending were: Senator Frank Antenori (LD 30), Pima County Supervisor Ann Day (District 1), Rep. Olivia Cajero Bedford (LD 27), Rep. Ted Vogt (LD 30), Rep. Bruce Wheeler (LD 28), Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez, Councilmembers Shirley Scott and Regina Romero.

    All pledged for more civil discourse and cooperation between the politicians, after last week’s horrific shooting. Nayor Walkup spoke of spreading “kindness, care & love to all.” About 75 people were in attendance.

  2. President Obama insightfully pointed out that “only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation…”

    Right now, honesty is more important than civility in our public discourse, in my opinion, for this reason:

    There are legitimate differences between the two sides, and disagreements that have to be worked out, often compromises need to be made. For example, The Right does not believe the government should have the right to regulate insurance companies; the Left believes the government should regulate insurance companies. There are many legitimate differences between the two sides, but for quite a long time now, the Right has been dishonest in how it describes, characterizes and explains issues, and that dishonesty stops any useful public discourse and prevents effective agreements or compromises necessary to serve the interests of the public and our nation.

    Issue after issue we are subjected to a Frank Luntz soundbite, almost always dishonestly characterizing each issue, but effective in sticking in people’s memories. Latest example? “Repealing the Jobs-Killing Health Care Act.” The CBO says Affordable Care Act will allow more seniors to retire, because they can now afford health care, and the impact will be about 0.05% fewer workers in the economy. To twist that and call it “jobs-killing” is exactly what Obama meant when he called for honesty in our public discourse. Think of your marriage or your relationship with your kids. If one person is being dishonest, can you work effectively together toward a solution? Can you be partners? Can agreements and compromises be made? No. Any possibilities become short-circuted.

    I believe there are real conversations to be had about taxation, about war, about regulation, about education, about free trade, or not so free trade, about social services the state makes available, or not. For our economy to serve our needs, those conversations need to happen and agreements need to be made. But if the Right keeps using dishonest slogans instead of working toward solutions, then nothing will change.