When the Washington State legislature begins the 2019 session in mid-January, civility matters.
Civility impacts our governance, it does not matter where one stands politically, our form of representative governance is dependent on the courteous and orderly participation of citizens and legislators. This is the best way to get the most information exchanged in the least time-consuming manner.
Civility matters because our form of governance depends on citizen/legislature communications and effective communication depends on getting facts to our legislators int the most efficient way. Most legislators are operating under a very tight schedule which includes caucus meetings, committee meetings, meetings with constituents, and private lobbyists representing a wide array of business and ideal based civic groups.
Part of the civility that makes the gears of governance work smoothly is making and keeping appointments with legislators, and legislators doing their best to honor those appointments. This cannot happen in an environment where chanting, mobbing, and interruption of session and floor activity impedes progress and denies others the time needed to make cogent debate. Blocking hallways and keeping citizens and legislators from freely moving about the legislative campus defeats the purpose of representative government.
Respect for the constitutionally protected first amendment regarding freedom of speech depends in a large part in the respect for those being spoken to. And it should also recognize and assume those hearing your speech have the intellectual ability to hear and make decisions based on what they hear. Coarse language and chanting degrades both the speaker and the listener and accomplishes little other than convincing others that those chanting have a disdain for those listening and wishing to make impactful and intelligent decisions on matters before the legislature, it denies a cogent discussion, wastes the time of many.
It is my hope as the session begins that the trend of rude demonstration will be self-curtailed in the interest of the progress of all ideals. People can make informed decisions about their governance much more effectively when civility is the order of the day each day of session.
Those who found it satisfying to mob, chant, and to shout from galleries to the floor of the house or senate must come to the realization that a chance to work in an on-going fashion for the recognition and improvement of their issues depends on intelligent and civil discourse. Facts are needed in decision-making. Speak in a way that will leave a memorable and positive impact. Discard the tactic of leaving a negative memory of your issues and your groups or organization. We all stand a better chance of making progress using the civil and respectful tactics our framers envisioned and responsible and informed citizenry would bring to self-governance.