Power of Story
Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 2 (2 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   2 comments
OpEdNews Op Eds

Abolish the Aisle: Would Divided Legislators Work Together If They Had to Sit in Alphabetical Order?

By       Message Yes Magazine     Permalink
      (Page 1 of 1 pages)
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

Funny 2   Well Said 1   Supported 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H2 1/4/14

- Advertisement -

Reprinted from yesmagazine.org  by 

US Capitol building
(Image by Rob Kall)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

Marco Rubio would be next to Bernie Sanders, and Paul Ryan would rub elbows with Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan. If we closed the personal gap, maybe we could close the political one.

- Advertisement -

Everyone is looking for solutions to the gridlock that grips Washington. Most suggestions are complicated. But there's a simple step that could move our Congress in the right direction. We could stop seating the parties on opposite sides of the aisle.

The effects of the current seating arrangements are dramatically on display at every State of the Union address. One side rises in roaring applause for a point they agree with, as the other side sits in stony silence.

But what if talking with a legislator of a different party did not require "crossing the aisle?"

- Advertisement -
Helping legislators know their opponents as people rather than as positions could begin to build bridges across party lines.

It used to be that the folks we sent to represent us in Washington got to know each other across party lines. They went to the same social events, mixed at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, and played golf together.

No more. Not only has the political gap widened, the personal gap has as well, and with it any semblance of trust. Members on opposite sides of the aisle hardly know each others' names, much less the names of their opponents' spouses or children.

Many factors contribute to the estrangement. With the onslaught of big money in politics, our legislators are occupied with fundraising from the moment they win their most recent election. They now regularly fly home on weekends. As E. Clay Shaw, a 26-year former Republican congressman from Florida, told the Sun Sentinel, "The Democrats and the Republicans don't really know each other. They get to town on a Tuesday morning, vote, and leave on a Thursday. They don't socialize. They never see each other."

Given the reduced opportunities for socializing in off-hours, perhaps it's time to encourage cross-party conversations during work hours. How? Simply rearrange the seating in Congress.

Imagine our legislators seated in alphabetical order.

In the House, Mitt Romney's running mate Paul Ryan would sit next to Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan. Progressive Pennsylvania Democrat Chaka Fattah would converse with Tea Party leader Stephen Fincher of Tennessee.

- Advertisement -

In the Senate, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would be sandwiched between progressive Democrats Claire McCaskill from Missouri and Robert Menendez from New Jersey. Firebrand Florida Republican Marco Rubio would get to know Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders.

Can a different seating arrangement make any difference?

Jim Kastama, a Democrat who served 16 years in the Washington state senate, says it can. In an op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, Kastama recounts that when he joined the senate, there wasn't enough room on the Democrats' side of the chamber, so he had to sit with the Republicans. Later on, still a Democrat, he stayed on the Republican side by choice. Some accused him of being a Republican at heart and a sell-out. He claims his choice "" allowed me to build relationships with these lawmakers and their families, discover areas where we agree, and build trust. We still had sharp differences, but I found a willingness to work problems out, rather than fight."

The polarization we see today in our Congress has many sources. Gerrymandered districts create safe seats that enable extreme positions. The flood of money in politics funds politicians beholden to fixed positions. Our 24/7 media barrage thrives on demonization and polarizes us all.

Abolishing the aisle will not solve those problems. But helping legislators know their opponents as people rather than as positions could begin to build bridges across party lines. It doesn't cost money--and just might avoid the worst of the gridlock.


- Advertisement -

Funny 2   Well Said 1   Supported 1  
View Ratings | Rate It

Yes magazine is a superb publication with visionary articles Opednews recommends very highly. They give OEN permission to periodically reprint some of their articles. 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting
/* The Petition Site */
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

A Bill of Rights for Occupied Communities

States Close in On Citizens United: California, Montana, and Beyond

Obama Pipeline Plot Twist Is Not a Victory -- And Could Erase the Struggle

Two Years After the Eviction of OWS, Here's 5 People Keeping the Movement Alive

Why an Iraqi Single Mom Is Suing George W. Bush for War Crimes

Baltimoreans Celebrate Charging of Officers--But Say It's Just First Step