In today’s Boston Globe, there is a column by Brian McGrory entitled “The Dignified Statesman.” The piece recounts a chance encounter with former President George H.W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. But more than just a quick visit, McGrory reflects on the loss of civility in American politics and the America we have become. He speaks on the national level, but there are many parallels happening at all levels of government.
“Five minutes with George H.W. Bush, and the problems of the present are made more vivid by the virtues of the not-so-distant past,” he writes. “Say what you will, but the unimpeachable fact is that he knew how to govern.” He continues on about a tax hike (which likely cost him his presidency), the spending caps and cuts he put in place, two pieces of landmark legislation, and a war with a clear mission and a defined end.
He sums it all up this way:
There are no leaders risking their careers in the name of the common good. There are precious few officials seeking compromise rather than cheap political points. There are no bridges, just blockades, no reasonable debates, just frantic threats. The extremes, especially on the right, have overwhelmed the middle, and the result is an economy in a government-prolonged rut.
The piece concludes with the observation that you don’t outgrow these virtues, you simply abandon them. And having spent a few fleeting moments with what we had, he remarks that it only makes it more regrettable about what we’ve become.
This piece is a great reflection on our history over the last 25 years. And it will cause the reader to stop and think about what we can do to change our course. It’s big-picture thinking, and something worthwhile to explore.
You can read the entire column by clicking here.