Opinion

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Occam's Razor

Set Example of Civility

The actions of Greg Gianforte and two Flathead County Planning Board members hurt civil discourse

Man is the only animal that blushes — or needs to. – Mark Twain

We are accustomed to politicians, and others, calling for more civility in politics, even though the implementation of any such civility in their own lives appears to be a very foreign concept. The rest of us should be more civil, however. The award for most brazen hypocrisy in 2017, and I realize this is a highly competitive field, must be awarded to our new U.S House Rep. Greg Gianforte. Four days after being convicted of misdemeanor assault, and after running two of the most mean-spirited and uncivil political campaigns in Montana history, in his first interview as representative elect for Montana, he stressed the need for more civility in politics.

Undoubtedly that is a true statement, but only the most gullible person on earth would think he would actually practice such civility. Since his campaign continued to lie about the confrontation with reporter Ben Jacobs until it became obvious the lie would be incontrovertibly refuted, it is hard to imagine that our representative experienced bright light, road to Damascus conversion, like the Apostle Paul, inspiring him to conduct himself in a more civil manner. In his subsequent apologies, he never promised to attempt to set an example of civility, such as vowing to refuse to engage in negative campaigning in all future campaigns.

Similarly, on a local level two Flathead County Planning Board members engaged in clearly uncivil, not to mention unnecessary, comments regarding planning suggestions from the City of Whitefish. It is fortunate that most individuals intuitively seem to understand what civil discourse is, and the majority of the planning board practices that. Kudos to them. The county commissioners have the ability to enhance the culture of civil discourse right here in Flathead County by removing the uncivil board members. Don’t hold your breath on that one.

During my time on the Flathead County Board of Commissioners I had the great good fortune to serve with other commissioners who practiced political civility. Bob Watne, Gary Hall, Dale Lauman, and Jim DuPont, all deserve praise for refusing to engage in uncivil behavior in our deliberations. We certainly did not always agree on everything. Some days it seemed like we agreed on nothing. There were times when our passion over an issue resulted in heated exchanges, and perhaps a disgusted look, but it never deteriorated into name calling, personal attacks, or post discussion snipping on the matters before us. There were times when we apologized to each other, and throughout we managed to maintain a sense of humor and personal respect.

Maybe it’s not all that complicated. Perhaps children who never learned to play nicely together, lack the ability to set an example of civility as adults.

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