As a proud American, it goes without saying that our democratic system of government is of gold standard. We export our ideals to inspire fairness and liberty across the globe. However, nobody is perfect…not even our country. On both sides of the aisle, our political rhetoric has growth increasingly heated and we may have lost sight of rules of decorum. From the highest office on down, personal insults are disseminated with ease and vicious tactics employed. As a five-term mayor, I’m not naive and understand that politics has sometimes been a dirty sport. That said, we should always aim for a return to civility and find inspiration wherever possible…even when it comes from the most unexpected places.
Last week, I was the only American elected official and one of the very few Americans invited to serve as an “independent observer” of a Presidential primary in El Salvador, that of ARENA (Alianza Republicana Nacionalista). Our group was brought in to oversee a process that has often been riddled with corruption and opacity, particularly in Latin America. I witnessed firsthand this reputedly “third-world” country political party comport itself with dignity, integrity and civility in its primary. The three top candidates expressed respect for each other repeatedly, and conducted themselves with the utmost decorum. The ARENA party invited this international election audit and wanted to ensure that true democracy would win the day as opposed to foul play. The vote was secret with great participation by all classes and sectors of society. It was awe-inspiring to see them apply lessons in democratic conduct and move their troubled country a few steps in the right direction. Admirable!
The fact is, it’s never too late to look in the mirror and make strides to improve.