Sunday, September 9, 2018

Dick Spotswood: McCain’s comment sets example for civic discourse

Dick Spotswood: McCain’s comment sets example for civic discourse

September 8, 2018 at 10:00 am

At an August 2016 campaign rally in York, Pennsylvania, a woman supporter of Republican presidential candidate John McCain stood up and said, “I can’t trust Obama, I read about him, and he’s not, he’s not – he’s an Arab.” McCain’s reply not only showed his personal character but provides a teaching moment for all who hold or seek public office.

McCain instantly replied, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaigning is all about. … He is a decent person and a person you do not have to be scared of as president. … I admire Sen. Obama and his accomplishments, I will respect him. I want everyone to be respectful, and let’s make sure we are because that’s the way politics should be conducted in America.”

The Arizonan’s gentle rebuke worked, because the woman and McCain were both on the same side of the political divide. It wouldn’t have been so powerful and memorable if one of them was deep red and the other blue. When the admonition comes from your ally, it’s far more difficult to ignore.

I’ve seen the same approach here in Marin at city council meetings, community gatherings and political events. Unfortunately, that level of wisdom isn’t universal, even here in supposedly sophisticated Marin.

Traditionally, some Marin city councils have followed an unwritten rule. If an audience member went over the line and verbally attacked another with whom they strongly disagreed, it was time for a council member to take action. It was understood in those thankfully rare situations, it was the council member most identified with the out-of-control audience member’s policy position that needed to immediately act to get the proceeding back on track.  See full article HERE

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