You have not heard from me in a while because I’ve been finishing up my penultimate quarter at Bainbridge Graduate Institute, getting my MBA in Sustainable Business. Only three months and two days to go.
In this column I often write about bridge builders, individuals and organizations who bring diverse parties around the same table. Last week, something happened that leaves me greatly concerned for our future: Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine decided to step down. Her move represents a growing trend in moderates on both sides of the aisle bowing out to the increased polarization in the US Congress. When those with the most extreme opinions are the only ones staying at the table, how can we possibly have constructive dialogue?
I understand Senator Snowe’s reasons, and I respect them. I hope that even outside the Senate Chambers, she uses her influence to raise the level of conversation around issues that matter for the economic health of the US, not topics geared at politicking for votes, such as the denial of birth control for women — formulated and driven by a panel not including a single woman. I ask: why is this even being discussed, and why were no women included? Are we going backwards on Civil Rights?
How did we get here, and how do we get out? As citizens, it is our duty to send messages to those we elect into office that we want them to help steer us towards a brighter economic future, not argue across the aisle about whose rights are more important. We also have a duty to take matters into our own hands when our elected officials lose the path.
How can we each build bridges in our own communities and across diverse boundaries, and how can we tell Congress that the time for burning bridges has passed? For if the burning continues, there will be nothing left to be proud to call America.