2017-09-13 / Letters

Political debate needs more common sense

The recent spate of letters [“Liberal rants about Brat, health care unproductive” and “Why the ‘endless attacks’ against Dave Brat,” Aug. 30] about noisy town halls have substituted political invective for common sense. Starting with the basic issue the Observer first reported: Should town halls be civil? If people think their health care is in jeopardy, they will get agitated and upset. Common sense. Right or wrong, they get agitated. The agitation itself is feedback to elected officials, albeit not what they want to hear or the way some would prefer to hear it. One letter writer suggests “both sides could come together” but also states it makes no sense for Congressman Dave Brat to meet with liberal groups. So much for “coming together.” Talk to no one but like-minded people. That is exactly how Congress has “come together.” It’s called gridlock. Genuine dialogue involves compromise. Common sense.

Civility and compromise are not the same thing. Is it “gotcha” to give your side of the narrative? I believe it is honesty, but the quality that is really needed has been shown by neither side yet – a willingness to compromise.

Two letter writers are amazed by the “endless attacks” on Dave Brat both locally and nationally. Could it have something to do with Brat being radical and polarizing? Common sense. These “attacks” are to be expected for the so-called “lone voice of reason.” It comes with the territory. A criticism might not always be fair or just, but it stands to reason a contrarian will attract a lot of attention and a lot of criticism. There is nothing wrong with being radical, but it will attract negative attention and rightly so. Brat needs to run the gauntlet and withstand that scrutiny to be taken as seriously on the national stage as he is locally by some.

It goes beyond that. We have a representative democracy. That means Dave Brat is precisely the correct person to hear your praise and condemnation, your criticism, your thoughts and prayers, hopefully as civil and reasoned as possible. As your representative, he works for you. Rather than timidly holding back, you need to let him know how you feel if you want to participate in this democracy and you want him to represent you properly in Congress. Common sense.

Perhaps if Brat’s predecessor, Eric Cantor, had more noisy and boisterous town halls to keep him in touch with his constituents, he would have lasted longer. Perhaps not. Regardless, there is more than one side to the issue and you need to make your voice heard. Don’t be timid.

Lastly, a previous letter writer suggested Brat would substitute more charity for more big government. The current mess in Houston and Florida is a fair example of the need for both. In these cases you literally do not want to toss out the baby with the bath water. Agencies like FEMA, NOAA, National Guard, Army Corps of Engineers are critical – and all big government.

Aid agencies and locals with their blankets and fishing boats are also critical to the mix. Both are helpful and necessary for crises of this magnitude. Neither can fix everything, or substitute one for the other. You need both and there will still be suffering. Common sense.

The only sure bet is disapproval of Congress will continue.

Ed Swarbrick

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