Ci­vil­ity and progress make a great pair

The Detroit News - - OPINIONS - BY SANDY K. BARUAH Sandy K. Baruah is CEO of the Detroit Re­gional Cham­ber.

Re­gard­less of where you re­side on the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum, most Amer­i­cans can agree that what they see from Wash­ing­ton leaves much to be de­sired. Many of our na­tional lead­ers and me­dia voices no longer seem to be con­vers­ing. This has led to po­lit­i­cal stale­mate. The only time it seems that some­thing gets done is when one side mus­cles some­thing over the ob­jec­tions of the other side.

Given the progress Michi­gan and Detroit have made in re­cent years — and how much re­mains to be ac­com­plished — we can­not af­ford to fol­low the ex­am­ple of in­ci­vil­ity that grips much of our na­tional di­a­logue. The con­tin­u­a­tion and ac­cel­er­a­tion of Michi­gan’s progress is de­pen­dent upon all of us work­ing to­gether, find­ing com­mon ground and han­dling our in­evitable dis­agree­ments with hu­mil­ity and grace.

We are a na­tion of 325 mil­lion and a state of 10 mil­lion peo­ple. Each of us has a per­spec­tive and opin­ion on mat­ters great and small. Our Found­ing Fathers knew this and built a sys­tem based on rep­re­sen­ta­tion, bal­ance of power and com­pro­mise. Our sys­tem of gov­er­nance is de­signed to drive com­pro­mise.

In Michi­gan, we are for­tu­nate that ci­vil­ity is still vis­i­ble. Our for­mer gover­nor made a point to never crit­i­cize a po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent, even when he was crit­i­cized by them. Our new gover­nor, Gretchen Whit­mer, is fol­low­ing a sim­i­lar ethos and is ac­tively work­ing to build bridges with the Repub­li­can lead­ers of the leg­is­la­ture, who are re­spond­ing in kind.

Be­ing civil toward each other does not mean sup­press­ing ideas or agree­ing just to agree. There is an art to dis­agree­ing with­out be­ing dis­agree­able. If we be­gin our con­ver­sa­tions with the knowl­edge that the other per­son has the right to be­lieve in what he or she be­lieves, we can view these in­ter­ac­tions as an op­por­tu­nity to learn a dif­fer­ent point of view.

Fur­ther­more, while we of­ten dis­agree about how to ac­com­plish some­thing (e.g. ac­cess to health care, pro­vid­ing more job op­por­tu­ni­ties) our end goal is of­ten the same.

I read­ily ac­knowl­edge that our so­ci­ety is stronger thanks to the lead­er­ship and con­tri­bu­tion of those more po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive or lib­eral than me.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges Michi­gan faces are too great to be bogged down by the in­ci­vil­ity driven by hy­per­par­ti­san­ship. Our state is poised to be the global leader in the trans­for­ma­tion of how so­ci­ety moves. Pos­i­tive eco­nomic out­comes for more cit­i­zens con­tin­ues to build. Our global rep­u­ta­tion re­mains on the as­cent.

But de­spite the good news, there are warn­ing signs we must rec­og­nize. The Detroit Re­gional Cham­ber’s State of Re­gion re­port shows that our re­gion’s growth is lag­ging that of our peers across the na­tion. Busi­ness Lead­ers for Michi­gan data re­ports sim­i­lar find­ings com­par­ing Michi­gan with other states.

As Michi­ga­ni­ans we can’t al­low our lead­ers and cit­i­zens to fol­low Wash­ing­ton’s lead. We have too much at stake.

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