1 February 2012: Hyper-partisanship may be ending

Hyper-partisanship may be ending

Rep. Gabriel Giffords, making a heroic recovery after an attempted assassination, resigned from Congress last week. Her priority is correct: focus on healing.

Gabby, as she is called, serves as a model for the rest of us in courage, integrity, and civility.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama talked about how the team that eliminated Osama bin Laden worked collaboratively to insure the mission succeeded.

“All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. It only succeeded because every single member of that unit did their job.”

Obama used that as a metaphor for our country: “No one built this country on their own. This Nation is great because we built it together. This Nation is great because we worked as a team. This Nation is great because we get each other’s backs.”

Partisanship is a fine American tradition: It keeps us from descending into a one-party state.

Compromise is another fine tradition: It keeps us from descending into civil war. One was enough, one would think.

Beer is a third tradition.

In July 2009, Obama conducted the Beer Summit with black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and white Cambridge, MA police Sgt. James Crowley, who had arrested him for disorderly conduct.

It didn’t resolve their points of view, but I suspect it gave each a different perspective on and hopefully more respect for the other, realizing we have more in common than we have differences.

That’s what the new CCC Republican chair Phil Koentgas and vice-chair Robert Houdeshell and I agreed on in December when we ran into each other leaving Tommyknocker Brewery & Pub. We have differing points of views, but what we share is deeper: our humanity and our Americanism.

Phil and Robert agreed to come onto my show on KYGT, and it led to a Clear Creek version of a beer summit—Robert surprised me with a six-pack of Maple Nut Brown Ale.

A brief history: After an appearance on my show with Rep. Claire Levy in 2008 in their race for the legislature, I took Robert to task in a column for his position on TABOR. Robert believed I took him out of context and wrote a rebuttal. Fair enough.

During our January 21st show, I expressed to Robert my respect for him and other candidates because running for public office can be a brutal experience. I referenced Teddy Roosevelt who said it’s not the critic who counts, but “the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

The full quote is extensive and poetic, so worth Googling if you’d like to read it in its entirety.

In a recent column, “What’s on our dogs minds?”, conservative Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll writes, “Like anyone who resents moral exhibitionism, I rolled my eyes a dozen years ago when Boulder became the first city in the nation to officially refer to pet owners as ‘guardians.’ But after two years as the owner of a Scottish Terrier, I’ve begun to come around.” Imagine that!

There’s more “coming around” of late.

A new Republican group called Coloradans for Freedom has been formed, according to the Post, “to serve as a resource for the passage of civil unions.”

Courant columnist and former state representative Rob Witwer (R-Evergreen) was the keynote speaker at a recent organizational meeting.

The Colorado Statesman reports Rob saying, “There are a sizable number of Republicans who view this as a freedom issue. The government’s role is to maintain order, but beyond that it is to maximize freedom.”

I disagree with Rob about the primary role of government—it’s to protect the rights of the minority—but in this case, the outcome is nearly the same; more on that, though, in a future piece.

Yes, I more than roll my eyes when listening to the Republican presidential candidates reaming each other, but this time I didn’t roll my eyes after reading a Carroll column.

It’s pleasing to see a few thoughtful Republicans moving in the right—or is the “left”?—direction on one of our most divisive social issues and the local GOP selecting intelligent, articulate and gracious individuals for their leaders.

No doubt we’ll continue to have our debates: The health of our republic depends on them. There are, however, tiny almost imperceptible indicators this period of hyper-partisanship is abating despite the vitriolic rancor still filling the airwaves.

Perhaps we can call it the Gabby Effect, eh?

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