Reno Gazette Journal June 25, 2017
Since 1909, the Congressional Baseball Game has been an annual bipartisan event where Congressional Republican team plays against the Congressional Democrat team. This year, the game took special significance due to the events the day before when a political assassin armed with a rifle and a pistol fired over 50 rounds, critically injuring GOP whip Steve Scalise and four others before Capitol Police returned fire, killing the assailant. The game started with legislators from both parties meeting for a prayer around second base, where Congressman Scalise normally plays. The Democrats won the game but their manager, Congressman Mike Doyle, asked the Republican team manager Congressman Joe Barton to place it in Congressman Scalise’s office. Speaking on the floor of the House after the shooting incident, Speaker Ryan proclaimed, “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.” Following Speaker Paul Ryan’s remarks, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “I identify myself with the remarks of the Speaker”.
Moments like the one after the baseball shooting seem to unfold during critical times. Back in 2000, when we had a close election that couldn’t be called even several days after, the Democrats dispatched Warren Christopher and the Republicans sent Jim Baker, two former Secretaries of State, to Florida to negotiate a legal solution. Most countries around the world would have sent tanks and the military into their streets to solve that problem. Fast forward to 2016. On January 20th after President Trump was inaugurated, President Trump and the first lady shared a long friendly conversation with former President Obama and the former first lady on the steps of the Capitol before they walked the outgoing first family to the waiting helicopter. The transfer of power from Federalist John Adams to Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson and from Obama, a Democrat, to Trump, a Republican, and every single transfer in between has always been peaceful regardless of party. In some cases, Presidents from opposing parties became close friends after they left office. Hoover-Truman and Bush (41)-Clinton are two excellent examples of such friendships.
As we get ready to celebrate our Independence Day in just over a week from now, please remember that we are doing so by getting our friends together in our backyard for a barbecue when most countries around the world celebrate with parades involving tanks and soldiers in their streets. As a nation, we are unique. As citizens, we have a responsibility to maintain that. If you are reading this column on politics, chances are, you have strong political opinions. Sometimes having strong opinions leads to strained relationships. So, this 4th of July, reach out to that old friend from the other party you have a strained relationship with because of a political disagreement. Spend some time with them. See how (s)he is doing. Invite him or her to the barbecue. It doesn’t always have to be about politics. Let’s do our part to lift this country up one relationship at a time. Happy 241st birthday America, may that new constellation of stars in the deep blue sky shine brightly and flourish forever.