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A small step toward civility

Posted: January 18, 2011 4:14 p.m.
Updated: January 19, 2011 5:00 a.m.

While we don’t believe the give-and-take of political campaigns is a major factor in tragedies such as the recent shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- it was the work of a deranged man -- we certainly concur with those who say that more political civility would be useful in this country. One small step in that direction will be taken during next week’s State of the Union address when some members of opposing parties have decided they’ll sit together.

We all know what we’ve come to expect at the State of the Union -- members of one party standing together and cheering lustily as their president speaks, while members of the other party remain deathly quietly, sitting glumly and looking constipated. In fact, watching the address on TV is tiresome because the president is so often interrupted by applause from his own party members, even when he says something that isn’t all that important.

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, as liberal as they come, and Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, as conservative as they come, announced they will sit together at the speech. It’s expected that other colleagues will also seek out members of the opposite party and sit with them. That is certainly not going to eliminate the chasm of political differences that exist between the parties, but it will at least show the American people that political opponents can get along. And we hope it will slow down the maddening, herd-mentality applause interruptions that both parties have been guilty of in recent years.

Small steps are needed to help lessen the animosity and divide between the two parties. Sitting together is indeed a small step. But let’s all hope it will pay big dividends.

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