For a little while last Tuesday night, we got a glimpse of what used to be routine post-election civility.
Both U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, in defeat, and U.S. Senator Bob Casey, in victory, were gracious in their comments about the other.
In his concession speech, Barletta said, in part:
“Sen. Casey is going to represent Pennsylvania well and we’re going to move forward from here.”
Barletta also said he had a “good talk” with Casey.
“I asked Sen. Casey for us to come together tonight,” Barletta said. “We’re not Republicans or Democrats tonight, we’re Americans. People want to see a different decorum.”
Casey followed by telling his supporters his phone call with Barletta moved him.
“We had a good conversation and we talked about getting together in the future,” Casey said.
“In this difficult time for our nation, to have a phone call like that from two people running against each other was something we don’t see enough of in American politics. I am grateful for the call and for his service as a member of the House.”
Don’t think I’m being naive here. This campaign had plenty of vitriol and negativity.
Barletta doesn’t agree with Casey on much of anything. Ads on both sides were negative.
Barletta expressed great anger at one ad Casey’s campaign ran about health insurance for people with pre-existing conditions. Barletta, whose grandson is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, blasted Casey for insinuating in the ad that he could promote a policy that would keep his grandson from getting the care he needs.
Even then, though, there was a touch of civility. Casey actually apologized.
“I’ve never had to endure the pain” that Barletta’s family has been experiencing, he said. “I would never take action to intentionally add to that pain.”
As yourself this question. When was the last time you heard a politician apologize for anything?
If you couldn’t come up with one, that’s OK. I couldn’t think of one either.
Courtesy between winners and losers used to be so common we didn’t think much about it.
Like athletes shaking hands after a hard-fought game, that’s just the way things were done. We called those who couldn’t be gracious in defeat sore losers.
Now, particularly in politics, such actions are far less common and really stand out when they happen.
One of reasons why, I think, is that civility somehow gets lumped in with the rising tide against so-called political correctness.
Politically correct is an unfortunate term. It is always used derisively, most often by those who can’t be bothered to make the effort to avoid insulting, demeaning or belittling individuals and groups.
Civility and political correctness, while not the same thing, do share a link.
If you strive to be civil — treating your ideological opponents with some respect -- it’s less likely you’ll go on to disparage people just because they are different from you.
The example of civility Casey and Barletta set Tuesday night was a good one.
We need more like it. Starting yesterday.
Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.