As you know, I’ve spent the most recent chapter of my life passionate about civics in our state. In looking forward, I am equally passionate and interested in exploring the components of what civil discourse looks like and how we can each take responsibility for a positive and thoughtful approach to policy and political discussions.
Across the political spectrum, a majority of people in our state and country are exhausted and totally turned off from the current political environment. I get it! The statistics are dismaying. Well over 70% of the population of our country does not support the two currently leading candidates for president and the US Congress has an approval rating of 8%. That has to be a record low. There is unnecessary noise and cheap political rhetoric that blames others and offers few solutions. We all deserve better.
This effort starts with us individually. We can make a difference, by demanding or requiring that our political representatives behave with more emotional maturity and respect for the people whom they represent.
One of the first political lessons I learned from one of my political mentors was “never, ever talk down to the voter.” I’ve never forgotten that important lesson.
At the time, I was co-chairing a campaign with two other school moms to pass a municipal referendum to build a new Darien High School. My mentor’s point was to present the facts and be willing to listen — especially when you may disagree with someone’s point of view.
Further, it’s important to be honest about the pros and cons of policy proposals. By giving the facts ALWAYS and not a politically inflammatory headline, you are educating the community, allowing them the freedom to make their own decision. Facts and freedom build trust.
The referendum was won by the largest margin of victory and largest voter turnout in the history of Darien. We were and are proud of that effort.
It’s not rocket science, it seems easy to do, and though challenging right now, it’s more important than ever.
To these points, I recently had the pleasure of attending the Civility Initiative at the Rell Center at the University of Hartford. Former Governor Jodi Rell along with Governor Ned Lamont, spoke for an hour on civility and politics.
Themed “A Bipartisan Conversation,” it was an enlightening evening and the message was loud, clear and collaborative by both governors who have led by listening and not taking the bait. Inspired words of wisdom and beautiful conversation all around.
I’m especially grateful to Governor Rell for being an inspiration to me to get further involved politically. A role model always.
Four summary points from their conversation:
- Listen, listen, listen! Listen to understand, not simply to respond. This was repeated often.
- Come from the center. In a follow up conversation with Governor Rell, she shared “coming from the center is a combination of core lessons from your roots, your parents on core values. Tell the truth, stay grounded and be willing to have an open mind.”
- Understand the anger, don’t take the bait. Stay calm in moments of high emotion.
- Challenge an assumption, don’t challenge the motive.
Forever curious, I’m eager to learn what you would like to learn more about – – especially regarding our elections and civic sensibility.
Please let me know your thoughts and questions. I’m grateful for your input and thoughts along the way.