As the Legislative session closed at midnight Thursday night, some of the Representatives from the House stood up and gave their farewells to the House members who wouldn’t return the following year. One farewell in particular that caught me off guard was House Majority Leader Brad Dee’s remarks to departing member of the house, Minority Leader David Litvack.
Being the leaders for their respective parties, the two are forced to interact frequently throughout the session. One would expect politeness and cordiality in such an interaction, but what I saw just about made me fall off my chair. Imagine Nancy Pelosi and Eric Cantor chumming it up in the hallway of the D.C. Capitol, playfully teasing the other about their fashion sense or something funny that happened during Floor Debate that day. You have to contort your face and sort of squint your eyes to even try to picture it, right? But that is exactly the relationship I witnessed time and again between Dee and Litvack throughout the entire session! It was like watching two little leaguers goofing off in the baseball dugout.
But as I said before, what really got me was Dee’s farewell to Litvack. He stood up and with tears in his eyes and a quiver to his voice expressed how much he’d miss him. Now if you thought Cantor and Pelosi being chummy was a stretch, tearing up at either one’s farewell is enough to make you belly laugh. Yet, it was totally sincere. They embraced afterwards, and I noticed that my eyes were starting to get a little moist and cloudy.
So…why? Why should their relationship be any different than what we’ve come to expect in a world of barbarous cutthroat politics? Now I know some people will say that the Democratic Party is so insignificant in our super-majority state that the two never probably never really had anything to fight about—I mean, the Democrats just have to go belly-up anytime the Republicans want to do anything here right? Well actually, the typical response of a minority party in a free-speech country like ours is to respond bitterly and fiercely to the majority, viewing them as a kind of tyrant. Being pushed around doesn’t usually go over well with opinionated breeds like politicians. So it was clear to me that their relationship was hardly the “master-slave” kind. With that in mind, I happen to agree with what Rep. Dee said in his farewell address to Rep. Litvack: “We’ve come to view each other and define ourselves as human beings rather than as Republican and Democrat.” How refreshing. I believe that’s something we could all be reminded of a little more often.