Let There Be Civility

By Senator Alan DeBoer

Civil discourse has been an important part of the American tradition ever since our nation’s founding. The free exchange of ideas enables us to participate in processes to come up with solutions to problems and create a stronger sense of the greater good.

However, it seems that some people have forgotten the need to have these conversations with a sense of mutual respect.

I attended a couple of town hall meetings in mid-April with Congressman Greg Walden. They were held in Medford and Grants Pass, and afforded citizens the opportunity to share their concerns with one of the highest-ranking members of Congress.

Both meetings were marred with constant interruptions from members of the audience and frequent displays of disdain for the Congressman and everyone else in attendance. Many people who wanted to ask questions were unable to because of the time others spent heckling Walden without even trying to hear what he had to say.

The next day, I held two town hall meetings of my own, in Ashland and Jacksonville. Although a some of those who came to the Ashland event disagreed with my stance on a few issues, the overall dialogue was still largely productive. My meeting at old city hall in Jacksonville was even better, as the audience did much to uphold the traditions of civic discourse.

There’s no way that everyone is always going to agree on everything. Therefore, it’s critical we take the time to listen to each other’s viewpoints to decide what policies government should implement to benefit as many people as possible.

Instead, we’ve reached a point where elected representatives and members of their families are directly threatened by people who are unhappy with decisions they’ve made while serving in office. The mayor of Portland has had to contend with protesters behaving badly in front of the private residence that he shares with his wife and children. He stayed at least one night at a hotel and has had his car tires slashed repeatedly.

Such behavior is simply unacceptable. We owe it to each other to engage in constructive discussions that bring us closer to a mutual understanding, rather than perpetuating the politics of division and personal destruction normalized by the 2016 presidential election. Let’s rise above this and rise above the race to the bottom.

I was very encouraged by those who showed up to meet with me in Ashland and Jacksonville, and look forward to having more town hall meetings in the future. Together, we can do what we can to make Oregon a better place to live for each and every one of us.

Alan DeBoer is a State Senator representing District 3 in Southern Oregon.

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  • SocraticMeathead

    I think you describe three distinct situations.
    In Portland, the officials have simply handed the keys of the city to a various narcissistic uninformed egocentric losers. Who could have predicted that strategy could turn out so bad?
    In your case, you respectfully listen and consider your constituents so they carefully listen and want to have a productive dialogue.
    In Waldens case, a lot of people perceive him doing the bidding of the National GOP leadership and his donor base. He doesn’t listen to his constituents, so they don’t believe a respectful dialogue will be productive. He will, they believe, shine them on, pretend to listen and then go back and vote how he’s told by GOP financiers. So, they believe their best option is to make his town hall meeting hell and make him pay some price for ignoring the best interests of his constituents (as they see it)
    Each response is unique to what the people believe is most effective and reflects the actions of the elected officials.

  • Alana Alexander

    Or…the more left leaning the area
    .the worse the behavior. The well respectful meetings happened in areas that voted Trump. Bottom line
    Democrats have lost their minds, their manners and their capacity for civility.
    Its a mental health disorder.

  • Bob Clark

    The times they are a discouraging. Most media left and right is continually carping, and the left side is so agenda driven they are just hoping for a massive dumpster fire. Public employee unions and democrat operatives regularly send there army of thug like comrades into GOP events to disrupt and kill off free speech. The public colleges representing the government gravy train of public tax revenue largess have brainwashed young minds in school at accelerated rates relative to history. Books not beholding to a so called consensus are banned from public schools like Portland Public Schools; now the same dysfunctional PPS behemoth seeks to censor public testimony the Board does not agree with.
    It makes one think seriously about becoming a survivalist prepper, taking themselves off this steeply divided, harsh rhetoric reservation.
    Maybe just boycott mainstream media altogether and especially the search engine news writers.

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