Politicians should break from their partisan shackles

Editor’s note: The following blog was written in response to BizTimes executive editor Steve Jagler’s Milwaukee Biz Blog that was posted on Wednesday.

Steve, in response to your blog regarding "moderation" in politics, I’d like to comment that moderation is far more difficult than abstinence.

The politicians are afraid of standing up to whatever got them elected even if it means "they lose." In other words, I don’t want to be wrong, so my position will be "present." Or should an individual or a group move way left or right, they are unable to "non-polarize" the issue by moderation in the process.

Seems like today, politicians, once elected, start the next day running for re-election.  Then, no more crossing the aisle at the end of the day to slip over to the corner pub to have a pint of suds to discuss the differences and make a decision. David Obey in a recent speech to the Downtown Rotary said the above two issues represent the biggest change in politics since he was a legislator in Madison.

I recently read an interesting article in USA Today about the Irish monastics who provided strong leadership to their communities 1,500 years ago. Their story could teach our elected representatives a few lessons today. These men and women were as disciplined and focused as today’s most partisan politicians with a commitment to hospitality and community life. And their practices continue to shape religious communities such as The Simple Way, a group of "new monastics" in Philadelphia who are trying to break down the conservative-liberal divide in Christianity by being good neighbors in an inner-city community.

And politicians of every stripe should look to the example of St. Columbia. Driven out of Ireland by controversy, he established a monastic community on the Isle of Iona in Scotland, where he earned a reputation as a holy man, so unconcerned with personal comfort that he used a rock for a pillow.

From Iona, he spread Christianity through Scotland and acted as a diplomat among the tribes of the region. But his commitment to reconciliation was not a sign of weakness.  Columbia is remembered as a warrior saint, and legend says he saved a swimmer from the Loch Ness monster by commanding the beast, "You will go no further!"

Some of the above information comes from Henry G. Brinton, pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia.

I’m no saint, Steve, but when will these elected representatives start deciding issues because "it’s the right thing to do?"

Get rid of the greed, power, control, benefits, misguided recognition and all the negative tapestry of political office. Do things with the right motivation: "Because it’s the right thing to do!"
Arvid "Dick" Tillmar is the owner of Tillmar Connect LLC in Whitefish Bay.

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