The best and only real remedy we have:

Posted on November 18, 2021.

When I see the vitriol and hate that members of Congress spew at each other online, I sometimes need to remind myself that these are actually my coworkers. It's surreal that people whose job description is in the constitution would promote violence.

I've had countless conversations over the last few months about why this hostility thrives. Those conversations have unearthed a consistent set of conditions that keep the partisan rancor going:

RISE OF PERFORMATIVE GOVERNANCE: "If you aren't making news, you aren't governing." This quote from a colleague sums up much of what I see wrong at the Capitol. Attention itself is not the purpose of governance. Our job is supposed to be about bettering lives.

RISE OF THE FIGHTER: If performance is the name of the game, what kind of show is it? Many politicians talk about themselves as fighters. I've done it too, but there is a dangerous line here depending on whether you define yourself as fighting "for" or "against" something.

RISE OF THE OTHER: If a politician is a fighter, who or what is on the other side of the ring? Leaders can fight for constituents, a stronger economy, or better health care. Politicians merely fight against the other party. The negative partisanship in our country is severe.

RISE OF CONTEMPT: A huge swath of Americans view supporters of an opposing political party as the enemy. That's a tragic and very dangerous development that jeopardizes our ability to conceive of common ground. It makes compromise and cooperation dirty words.

ACCOUNTABILITY: There are no bosses at the Capitol Building. We are accountable to our constituents, which is a good thing. We are to come together as equals charged to represent. The goal was E Pluribus Unum, "Out Of Many, One." But achieving this goal hinges on respect.

RESPECT: Democracy cannot survive without respect. When one member threatens or even suggests violence against another, this all breaks down. I voted to censure because violence in our democracy, whether at the Capitol or anywhere, seeks to silence others.

PURPOSE: What does this all come down to? A boss of mine at the State Dept once told me "You don't have good government unless you have good people working in government". Our govt is a reflection of the people who work in it.

With all the toxicity and vicious attacks, a lot of decent and thoughtful people steer clear of politics. That's a shame because getting good people into government is the best and only real remedy we have. The opposite of democracy is apathy. With so much at stake, we have to engage, and I will continue to do everything I can to bridge the partisan divide and make life better for everyone who calls this country home.