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Murkowski and Begich: Modeling Respect

The video above is from the program Alaska Report via Senator Murkowski’s official YouTube channel. Alaska Report is a long running show on Alaska One public television. It has been strictly a Republican show for many, many years due to the fact that our Congressional Delegation has been all Republican.

As I hope you know by now, our Delegation has become mixed with the addition of Senator Mark Begich. So, Senator Murkowski and Senator Begich will switch off on hosting Alaska Report. To kick things off this year, Senator Murkowski invited Senator Begich to a joint show on February 9th.

I loved it and hope you’ll join me in watching this half hour program. What I realy appreciated about this program was its civility and basic agreement on the challenges facing Alaska. I didn’t expect or desire policy agreement on every issue, but I appreciated their agreement on what the important issues were:

  • Energy Production, including renewables
  • Better health care for veterans
  • Flexibility for Alaskan schools and away from one size fits all No Child Left Behind
  • Health care, especially the need for more medical providers in Alaska

They’ll have different solutions for acheiving these problems but share a common commitment to solving them.

The entire show was worth watching to me, but what I think the entire Congress needs to model can be found around 25:40, when the senators begin discussing Alaska’s “mixed” Senate delegation. First they celebrate that on Alaskan issues, Alaska will be able to talk to both parties effectively. Begich will be able to talk to people who might not care to talk to Murkowski and Murkowski will be able to do the same for Senators who don’t care to negotiate with Senator Begich.

After that, came something I really want to see more of. The following are paraphrases and not direct quotes:

Mark Begich – We both love Alaska and know its priorities.

Lisa Murkowski – You share my love for Alaska and want to work to make Alaska better.

Notice what’s going on here — people of opposing political parties are acknowledging that a representative of the opposite party loves their state. None of the “Disagree with my policies, hate your country” rhetoric we had been burdened with for the past eight years. No Gingrich/GOPAC style personal demonization of policy differences. Just two people who want a better Alaska even if they won’t always agree on how to get there.

This kind of basic respect for opponents is absolutely needed if we are to rebuild our country and our world.

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