Sometimes horrific events bring out the better angels of human character. The Democratic baseball team has exemplified this after yesterday’s shooting that left Republican Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise in critical condition and wounded three others.
In the moments after the shooting, the Democrats prayed for the victims in their dugout:
Later, Rep. Mike Doyle, manager of the Democratic team, invited his counterpart Rep. Joe Barton and the rest of the Republican team to dinner at the Democratic Club in Washington:
Tonight we want to be together. I just suggested to Joe that we’d like to host the entire Republican team down at the Democratic Club. Probably some of them have never stepped foot in that building, but we want to have them to dinner and have both teams be together.
Rep. Barton, whose 10-year-old son was at the practice field where the shooting occurred, was moved. He recalled the birthday gifts his son had received from Democrats and noted that they were like dads to him at the baseball field.
An act such as this may be largely symbolic, but that does not make it empty of substance. It is the kind of thing our politics could use much more of. The Congressional baseball game itself is already a nod in the right direction, and Rep. Doyle’s agenda-free gesture of hospitality is a further step.
It is hard to imagine a better way to resist political toxicity than having our elected officials simply spend time together socially, just being together as friends. The reality is these men and women have a great deal in common. They are accountable to their constituents, yet spend a great deal of time far from home serving them. A degree of sympathy should be easy.
Being friends across the aisle does not mean, of course, that members of opposing parties will agree more. But it does make them more likely to discover where they already agree, as well as to recognize and appreciate good faith in disagreement. More of this would doubtless serve our country well.
Rep. Doyle and his teammates are to be applauded for both the symbolism and substance of their hospitality.