LETTER: Stolen valor?

Robert Auerbach/Leavenworth

To the editor:

I hold our legislative representatives, regardless of party affiliation, in very high regard and esteem for their willingness to do the hard work necessary to make our community a safe and prosperous place in which to work and live. They are all to be highly commended. 

I am, however, always disappointed to see any member of a legislative body, be it national, state or local government, enflame the fire of partisanship with rancor and divisiveness as a means of establishing party preeminence on any given issue.

Rep. Proctor’s angry letter in the Leavenworth Times on April 17-18, 2021, titled “Stolen Valor,” in which he claims ownership of House Bill 2021, demonstrates that he has fallen prey to the enticing lure of subordinating another to superordinate himself. In this case, Sen. Pittman.

How does that create a better northeast Kansas veterans’ home? Does it establish a better collaboration on future legislation? I see where the ownership of valor was claimed by a single individual. The only valor apparently stolen was that of the other valorous individuals, Kansans, who contributed to a complex effort that necessitates bipartisan collaboration.

No problem of significant social impact is solved at ideological extremes. The solution therefore, resides between the two.

Our nation, at any level, is far too diverse to provide such an easy path to a result that benefits all. Leavenworth is no different. We are a diverse community from myriad walks of life and we represent a wide spectrum of socioeconomic status. That alone demands all legislators  seek out one another’s involvement for feasible and acceptable courses of action on any bill. Seldom, if ever, do opposing sides take the same path to solve a problem.

What matters in the end is that both sides arrive at an acceptable and viable destination – problems solved for the benefit of the community. 

The community takes a combination of efforts, not competition for credit. Building a community demands that our public servants check their egos at the door. Political divisiveness will end when each of us individually makes a commitment to the greater good by not using it as a tactic for achieving gain over others.

How does attacking the quantity of legislation produced improve the quality of legislation produced? Measuring another’s performance by the number of bills submitted rather than the quality of overall contribution to necessary and essential legislation is simply misguided and an intent to elevate one’s prominence using comparatively greater numbers.

Claiming that Topeka is a Republican town and thereby an automatic locked door to the efforts of Democrats is simply purposeful enflaming and an enticement to isolate and exclude. Topeka is not a Republican town. It’s a Kansas town and our capital. Belittling past work on this important bill on the grounds of political affiliation comes across as little more than arrogant bullying.

Picking up the phone to work through policy differences and any interpersonal conflict would accomplish much, much more. Angrily demanding a public apology is a poor attempt at saving face and gives the impression of trying to soothe a bruised ego. It is yet another indicator that the focus is on self not the result of the effort for the greater good.

We are all entitled to our opinions and those who seek the public spotlight expose themselves to the potential of very harsh rhetoric. It comes with the job. Responding with even harsher rhetoric, delivered with a mean-spirited tone, is not the solution.

Partisan divisiveness must stop. Have we learned nothing from the Jan. 6 insurrection at our nation’s capital? If our representatives won’t commit to ending senseless and useless bickering and ridiculous assertions, it will remain the tactic of choice, and provide the community with less than optimal solutions to our very real problems.

As a citizen of Leavenworth, I ask those of you who choose divisiveness to see beyond the ravages of continuous belittling and demeaning public comments, and see the value of optimizing every opportunity to work together for the betterment of the residents of our communities – the people you have sworn an oath to serve. It is your duty to do so.