Civil Discourse Among Leaders and Voters

When Elephants Fight The Grass Suffers

One of the goals for blogging on the Equal Voice Voting website is to raise the concern for civil discourse among our legislative leaders. Steven Pinker in his book, “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” quoted an African saying. It states, “When elephants fight the grass suffers.” The point of the saying is that when leaders quarrel it is the innocent constituents who bear the burden of the conflict.

elephants fight

Elephants fight and the grass is trampled, sometimes uprooted and buried in the dust of the skirmish. Likewise, our politicians often set aside good governance for the sake of a political party win. These political leaders set aside compromise. Instead they exchange rhetorical barbs and disrespect their fellow legislator(s) – sometimes beyond forgiveness or repair – for the sake of a quick victory.

“Party First!” seems to be their war cry. And the grass (their constituents) is pressed down underfoot. Sadly, the workings of our nation’s governance seems to be more and more divisive. That proverbial center aisle, dividing the left from the right, gets wider and wider. Listening, cooperation, mutual respect and civil discourse become lost in the dust.

Tone and Posturing Becomes Contagious

contagious warning sign

What we witness happening with our leaders in Washington seems to pass down along party lines. The civil discourse spoils the workings of our state legislatures. Is this a version of what we’ve been told is called the “trickle-down theory?”

Everyone is tired of the conflict we see in Washington. For example, Ohio Governor Kasich recently referred to the back-and-forth contention being a lot like a Ping-Pong match. Nothing gets done and good governance suffers.

The cancer of contention spreads so we, as citizens, find ourselves choosing sides. We defend causes simply because they’re draped in Democratic Blue or Republican Red. The elephant struggle tears our nation apart. Good governance, good logic, and empathetic dialogue are no longer hallmarks of our otherwise civilized society. Elephants fight and we all lose.

Likewise, civil discourse can be contagious in a positive way. It means we need to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. And we need to vote!

talk listen vote sign

Just to be clear, the “elephants” discussed here is NOT a reflection of the Republican mascot. It pertains to all political leaders of all political parties.

Civil Discourse Matters for Equal Voice Voting

Just as Equal Voice Voting is a call to let everyone’s vote count, civil dialogue needs to also be a goal. Our leaders, neighbors, friends, relatives, and ourselves need to participate. Society is more complex than what we’ve experienced before. As we learn more we share more. As we share more we must listen more. To discover the best among ourselves – and leverage these findings for our collective gain – we must first realize we need each other.

I have expressed my view to legislators, both Democrat and Republican, that both political parties need both sides to be healthy and thriving. They need each other to be the best they can be so they can govern the best they can.

Equal Voice Voting is a call for our state legislators to allow all of their constituents to be heard as in having all votes count when they choose a president. Seeking to control and effectively silence the votes of many via a winner-takes-all approach only furthers the struggle.

To continue doing what we’re doing is a lot like watching elephants fight and having the grass – our votes – suffer in the process. Let’s let everyone’s voting voice be counted and use Equal Voice Voting for our next presidential election.

We need to begin at home. Tell your friends and neighbors and relatives about Equal Voice Voting. Contact your state legislators and tell them Equal Voice Voting is one way to bring the nation together – at least during presidential elections.


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