Engaged advocates for the new Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River at Washington set an example for those citizens who seek state and federal approval for improvements, accompanied by financial support. In fact, it was an example for Congress and our state legislators in Jefferson City. The bridge advocates didn’t demand a new bridge with emotional verbal outbursts and angry confrontational attacks. Rather the local bridge supporters worked with state officials, were patient, cooperated and above all “stayed the course” that has led to approval of plans for the new structure.
Along the way, good will was promoted and established. Citizen bridge advocates got to know state transportation officials and vice versa.
That good will was evident last week when the State Transportation Commission held a meeting here that included approval of the new bridge. The commissioners and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials enjoyed their visit and the hospitality extended. Many, many comments were heard about the city and its citizens. You can’t buy the good will that was created!
All of this reminded us of recent commentaries about members of Congress and the lack of good will in the the House and Senate. Members don’t know each other like they once did. Members voted themselves expansive travel expenses that permit many of them to spend only three — four at the most — days in Washington, D. C., when Congress is in session. They fly home Thursday night, or Friday, and don’t return until some time on Monday. So they “work” three days and it’s homeward bound. Now, there are exceptions when members are there longer and they do have some evening sessions. What is lacking is friendships across the aisles. A lack of friendships results in our state of gridlock.
Because of this, not solely, of course, but a factor, is that compromise is missing. When our members of Congress spent more time in D.C., and understood the other person’s positions, respect was built. Friends were made regardless of party membership. That led to compromises. Sure, there still was partisan behavior, but attitudes overall were less confrontational and there was more of a cooperative spirit. They socialized more.
Yes, we know there were times long ago when this didn’t exist, but there were more times when cooperation prevailed. Veteran political observers have expounded on this issue.
The same unhealthy environment at times prevails in Jefferson City in the state Capitol.
The reading here of the majority of people is that they want a spirit of cooperation, middle ground balance and they deplore extremism.
We were impressed by what happened in the bridge issue. Jurisdictional boundaries also were hurdled in the quest for cooperation of the involved entities. All of this paid off.
We need to work together on public policies. That’s how positive things happen.