Civility should not be overcome by politics

Civility should not be overcome by politics

The following is an editorial that I wrote for the Times Record. It ran on May 30th, 2014:

Participation in politics is not for the faint of heart. There will always be issues that divide the major parties. Throughout the history of our democracy, politicians have brawled (both literally and figuratively) over the issues. It is essential for our democracy that we always have a healthy debate and exchange of ideas. But the days of Burr and Hamilton, Brooks and Sumner, are long gone. In the 21st century, we need to hold ourselves to a higher code of conduct. As politicians, we need to agree to disagree and work hard with mutual respect and civility to find common ground for those we represent.

In the 126th Legislature, as a member of the Joint Committee on Education and as co-chair of the bipartisan Youth Caucus, I have worked hard to find shared goals and craft compromises between my Democratic and Republican colleagues. Political adversaries can put aside their differences to work together when they share a common goal. And more often that not, we do work together to accomplish much for the good of Maine.

Political back-and-forth is by no means limited to the Democrats versus the Republicans. Parties can become divided on issues within their own ranks. The Democratic Party is strengthened by the diversity of our viewpoints and united by the common core of our beliefs. Yet this relationship can become very strained, especially during the primary campaigns, when neighbors can become adversaries. Campaigns can bring out the best and the worst in us. This can be a period of high stress and emotions, relentless work and immense personal sacrifice. Or, hopefully, it can be a wonderful time of renewal, getting to know more of your neighbors and their views and needs, and strengthening community bonds. In Augusta and at home, we must have reasoned discourse and healthy debate, avoiding negativity, personal attacks or whisper campaigns. Such behavior damages the political process by wrecking professional relationships, burning bridges that lead to compromise, and, worst of all, convincing voters to silence their voices, stay home on election day and avoid civic life altogether. Negative campaigning should have no place in our local political dialogue.

My hope for this campaign is that all of us running for office, regardless of party or position, can have a robust and healthy debate on issues and maintain a high standard of civility. We can disagree on policy, but there is no excuse for attacking each other, questioning motives or integrity. We must respect all who are willing to put themselves in the public sphere because they want to contribute. We are all running for office because we want to make Brunswick and Maine a better place. After the election, we must work together to move forward as a community.

I am running for re-election to represent the newly formed House District 49. I look forward to talking to as many of you as I can in the coming months. Please call or email me with any concerns or issues that you have.

The residents of the new District 50 are also fortunate to have a choice of two highly qualified democratic candidates in the upcoming primary. I have been asked where I stand on this race. Due to my position in the legislature, knowing both candidates, and having worked with both of them, I have chosen to remain neutral in this race. However I strongly urge everyone to research the positions and experiences of these two candidates. I encourage you all to make your own decision and vote in the primary. Throughout the next few days and months I hope that you will hold all of us who are running for office to run civil campaigns focused on the issues and not personal attacks. See you at the polls on June 10th!

This post was written by
Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry, a Brunswick native, is the State Representative for the Maine House District 66

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