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Mature behavior is needed from all of us

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Joe Webb, Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party

Sometimes Democrats are correct about a few things. That might be a pretty radical view for a Republican chair in these days of sharp political division, but the facts are that sometimes there is bipartisan agreement. Furthermore, you don’t have to look that far at all to easily determine these facts.
About 10 years ago, I was a reading a publication of the John Birch Society, The New American. They have a Congressional scorecard that they put out twice a year called “The Freedom Index.” Congressman Barney Frank earned a high score for that one report, a 70 to be precise. I don’t know how the congressman performed with other scorecards, but the John Birch Society is not exactly a benchmark for progressive orthodoxy. How did Congressman Frank accomplish this? It’s simple, he voted the way that the John Birch Society determined was pro-freedom. Because the congressman’s votes and the views of the scorecard editors were more in agreement than not, he earned a high score.
The unspoken reason for that high score is that the editors began with principles first and then applied them blindly. It should be that way for every scorecard. Examine any scorecard from any group. A favorite legislator may earn a consistent 100 on one scorecard you follow. If someone in the opposing party earns a 20 or a 40, it means that they vote against the way you would 60 to 80 percent of the time. But it also means they agree with you 20 to 40 percent.
It is those points of commonality that seem so elusive to many but are there if you examine facts in a more than a perfunctory manner. It wasn’t that long ago that people could disagree politically about things and still remain friends. No doubt Republicans and Democrats work together in a cordial, professional manner in our legislatures more frequently than not despite their sharp differences. It ought to be that way in the larger body politic again.
My reason for these words go back to the shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana). The blood shed by one man ought to be enough. There is virtue in amicable disagreement. Both Democrats and Republicans have a right to the opinions that they hold. They are entitled to fight it out in the public arena like any battle of ideas. If one side loses they can refine their arguments and come back at the next election. Rather than point the finger from one side to another in a tut-tut sort of way, I want to mention that even now there are areas of agreement. More importantly, both parties need to function in a healthy manner in order for our Republic to continue. Blaming talk-radio or saying the other side started this is juvenile and counter-productive. Anyone with sense should recognize the folly in that tactic. What is necessary is a recognition that mature behavior is needed from all. An unregulated consensus should develop across party lines to foster this mature behavior because the alternative is much worse. I must conclude by speaking directly to those who hate Republicans directly.
Some may wish to dismiss Republicans out of hand as not worthy of dialogue or as “extremists.” As of May 1, there are 117,107 registered Republicans in Jefferson County, according to the Secretary of State’s website. They are a diverse lot. They range from the palest pink of Republicans to bright fire-engine red Republicans. It is difficult to describe them comprehensively, but Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) came pretty close a few years back when he described the makeup of potential Republicans. To roughly paraphrase the Speaker, “Jeffco Republicans are white, black, brown and yellow. We are male and female. We are old and young, gay and straight. We are Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist and some of us have no religion at all. The one thing we all have in common is that we believe in limited government, a strong national defense and that you should keep more of what you earn rather than having it taxed. If you believe in what we believe then come join us and help us fight for those things.” In other words, we are open to everyone joining us who believes what we do with no exceptions. Despite our diversity all Republicans have another thing in common — we are Americans. We have the right to influence our country’s path just like any other group of people, and we are not going anywhere.