Since 1909, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have convened for a friendly annual baseball game – all in the spirit of bipartisanship. Members have historically enjoyed the event so much that the game even “interrupted the workflow of Congress in 1914,” forcing Speaker James Beauchamp Clark to send the Sergeant at Arms to collect the practicing Congressmen for a vote.
The Congressional Baseball Game is a symbol of both parties setting aside their differences and coming together for friendly competition – not to mention the most American of pastimes, baseball. Yet one year ago today, even this event was tarnished by the current environment of hyper-partisanship when, horrifically, an individual opened fire on the Republican baseball team as they practiced for the game, and the violence appeared to be politically motivated.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 16, 2017
This tragedy, though an extreme example, is yet another symptom of our nation’s current hyper-partisan state. All too often, differences devolve into personal animosity or even hatred. Rather than work together toward solutions, we put on ideological blinders and refuse to recognize with common decency those with whom we disagree. Not only does this mindset threaten sensible legislation but, as reflected in the ballfield shooting, it can also be a threat to our safety.
As we reflect on this terrible event, we must commit ourselves to toning down the dangerous political polarization that grips our nation. We need to return to a basic respect for all – especially those with whom we disagree.
Just as the Congressional Baseball Game offers a chance to come together, creating the Joint Committee on the Organization of Congress would allow Congress to identify and fix the problems pushing us further apart. The hyper-partisan state of our politics exists coast-to-coast, but Congress has a chance to lead by example, reforming itself to ratchet back the rhetoric, find common ground and begin to heal the wounds that divide us.