Senator Olympia Snowe is calling it quits. After 33 years of service to her state and her country, she’s packing it in, even though she most likely would have been elected to a fourth term.
What does one senator’s decision to leave congress have to do with parenting in ? A lot, as far as I’m concerned. Sen. Snowe isn’t leaving the senate to retire and crochet doilies. She’s leaving because she doesn’t want to be part of “the atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies” that have come to mark the American legislative landscape.
That an experienced and respected legislator such as Sen. Snowe no longer wants to be part of our Congress makes me fear for the future of elected representation in our country. If someone as respected and experienced as Sen. Snowe can’t stand it, how can we expect our children to want to grow up to govern their country?
I’m with Sen. Snowe in being frustrated with the divisive partisanship that pervades our current political scene. It’s not just the “my way or highway” approach that has me sickened, though. I’m appalled at what passes for political discourse these days. Not only are our politics more polarized, our discussions have become ugly and unproductive.
Read through the comments to any of the politically charged columns and articles appearing in the Patch. Apparently, it’s no longer enough to disagree. No, now, we have to declare anyone who doesn’t agree with us an idiot, a moron, a communist, a Nazi, a nut job. And those are the nice names.
It’s not just the Patch where things are out of control. Every single political story I have read in the past year has had a string of comments following it that quickly veered from commentary on the original article to violent, insulting attacks on the commentators themselves.
I’ve read that Sen. Snowe is looking forward to a “new chapter” in her career. She’s said she wants to "give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America." I hope a return to civility in government includes a return to civility in talking about government.
When my son was little, he would introduce himself to strangers, saying his first and last names and then holding out his hand for them to shake. It was adorable. I pictured him running for office one day, so I taught him to add, “and I want to be your President.” Unless something changes radically in the way we do and talk about our politics, I’ll be teaching my grandchildren to say, “and I wouldn’t run for President if it were the last job on earth.”