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When it comes to political debate, we can do better
Three former military men and a former secretary of state have seen a lot, but they don’t like what they see now.
Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton, and retired Gen. Colin Powell, who served in key foreign policy posts under Republican presidents condemned the current political climate during a lecture in Omaha on Tuesday.
The Omaha World-Herald quoted Albright as being “deeply troubled by the direction we’ve gone.”
Powell said Americans “have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and things that just aren’t true.”
Last week, during a joint appearance at the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus, former Nebraska Sens. Chuck Hagel and Bob Kerrey, without naming President Trump, decried the current state of American politics and sharp divisions it has created and nurtured.
Hagel, a Republican Vietnam veteran who served as secretary of defense under Barack Obama after serving in the Senate, said Democrat Sen. Kerrey, a Navy Seal who and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam where he lost a leg, sought Hagel out when he arrived in the Senate to find common ground.
“We were there to serve the interests of the people we represent,” Hagel said, “and that bonded the two of us.”
The rise of unaccountable social media, used irresponsibly, combined with a hyperpartisan Congress and unlimited dark money, has made cooperation and compromise nearly impossible.
True progress starts with the foundation, our nation’s voters electing leaders willing to accept political risk for the common good.
Instead of reading and listening only to voices with whom we agree, we need, like Hagel and Kerrey when they arrived in Washington, to seek out those who hold views different from our own, find common ground and seek a way forward.