A select group in Congress has formed to " investigate, study, make findings, hold public hearings, and develop recommendations to make Congress more effective, efficient, and transparent on behalf of the American people." Called the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, this group recently held a hearing that can be watched on YouTube.
I found it deeply encouraging. In the hearing, various experts and members of the committee discussed how to move from "high conflict," characterized by humiliation, contempt, and paralyzed positioning, to "regular conflict," characterized by disagreement and even anger, but where resolution is possible and even exhilarating.
Guess what triggers escalation to high conflict? Public humiliation on social media. Calling people names or imputing to them malevolent motives. Even gangs have "rules of the game" so that when high conflict threatens on social media, there are agreed-upon steps to de-escalate. No such rules exist in our Congress — yet.
Congress has pressing issues to deal with. Record heat and drought in our country and in Minnesota are current reminders that however far we have come in our national conversation about climate change, the specific national actions that need to take place to solve the problem are largely in our future — hopefully the very near future.
In the hearing, experts encouraged the committee members to start with manageable issues and work their way up. Has this process begun? The Growing Climate Solutions Act sailed through the Senate in late June. While this act only begins to accomplish what is needed, the 98-2 vote should be praised from the housetops of every home in this country. Can it be signalling a trend back toward "regular conflict?"
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