When you listen to state Sen. David Argall and former Lt. Gov. Mark Singel sit on a panel together and discuss the state of our presidential politics, you see hope.
You see hope because they shared their opinions calmly, rationally, thoughtfully, without name-calling, without eviscerating each other.
It makes you realize that, for the most part, this is the state of our politics in this country. It’s not what you see between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It’s people trying to work together to make this country or this state or even their neighborhood better.
Argall is a Republican who represents Schuylkill and Berks counties. Singel is a Democrat from Johnstown who was the acting governor during Gov. Bob Casey’s illness in 1993. They were two of the people taking part in a discussion called “Presidential Election: National Issues, Local Impact” held at Penn State University Harrisburg last Thursday. About 50 people attended, and it was shown live on PCN.
While they don’t share the same politics, Argall and Singel showed a civility that is sorely lacking in today’s political world.
Now we aren’t playing Pollyanna here. These aren’t two people who are running against each other. Singel is now a lobbyist and consultant and likely won’t run for office again. They had no reason to really go after each other. But to see them discuss our political future in a way in which you actually learned something was refreshing.
Argall articulated well the shifts he is seeing in his home area, with Republicans making huge gains and traditional Democrats shifting support to Trump.
Singel early on made his feelings about Trump clear. He’s not a fan. But even after being questioned by two young members of the audience wearing the distinctive red “Make America Great Again” hats, he got his point across about why he prefers Clinton to Trump.
“I can’t blame people who have been displaced (from jobs) for some degree of anger,” Singel said of Trump supporters. Yet Clinton has a track record of getting things done in the government arena while Trump does not, he said, and that is one of the many reasons she is the better candidate.
The red-hatted Trump supporter who asked Singel about Trump also was thoughtful, and Singel singled them out afterward to thank them for coming.
Singel was especially on point when making historical references to what we face today. In his view, one of the key dates in American history is one you probably have never considered. It’s March 4, 1797. That is when George Washington willfully gave up power over the United States to a new leader, without one drop of blood being spilled. Even further, he said, is March 4, 1801. That is when Adams gave up the presidency to his rival of a different political party, Thomas Jefferson, after an extremely heated presidential election.
In other words, we have a political tradition to hand off the reins of power and reunite for the good of the country. Indeed, in Jefferson’s 1801 inaugural address, he stated: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” referring to his party and the outgoing party.
“I hope we get away from this as quickly as possible,” Singel said of the rancor around the campaign.
We have to get away from it. That does not mean people cannot disagree. But this goes past disagreements. This is about personal attacks.
We have two flawed candidates. We can’t change that. But one will be president.
Whether you are with Trump to “Make America Great Again” or with Clinton, who believes we are “Stronger Together,” neither as president can reach their goals alone.
“You can disagree with them, but you’re going to have to work with them,” Singel said. He was referring to Trump and both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. But that stands true for all of our elected officials.
One more positive note: Americans and Pennsylvanians generally have a positive view about the overall performance of state and federal government. The Penn State Harrisburg School of Public Affairs recently surveyed 660 randomly selected adult Pennsylvania residents. Almost 70 percent rated somewhat good or very good the performance of the federal government in delivering public services. About 65 percent had the same perception about Pennsylvania’s state government.
This election will be over (we hope) a week from now. Campaigning will turn to governing for either Trump or Clinton.
We are not going to tell you for whom to vote. But we encourage you to go to the polls and make an informed choice not only for president but for the other races on the ballot.
“The worst thing you can do is sit it out,” said Rogette Harris, chairwoman of the Dauphin County Democratic Committee and also a panelist.
Neither Trump nor Clinton are close to Thomas Jefferson as a visionary or leader. But we desperately want them to heed the words of our third president: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”
Come Jan. 20, Inauguration Day, let us all be Americans again.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 15:12