Lessons learned on Thanksgiving break

Precocious grandkids frolicking in leaves, mastering Monopoly strategies and demanding multiple trips to Marion’s beautiful Central Park, where the youngest was photographed against the same backdrop as was used with her sister, brother, and father at the same age in years past, weren’t the only things that provided hope, thanksgiving and a bit of pleasant holiday din last week. So, too, were two events emanating from the city building’s handsome new community center.

Reports heard while returning Sunday to a school-year office in Illinois, its floor covered in several inches of antifreeze-like gel after an undetected heating leak, were that Sunday’s Marion Christmas was a strong first step in uniting a too-often fractious business community behind a promotion that promises to grow into an annual event, revitalizing area business’ holiday cheer.

Even more encouraging was the responsible and rational leadership aptly demonstrated by Sen. Jerry Moran at his 1,000th town hall meeting six days earlier. Returning to Marion, where his town hall series began, he reaffirmed the qualities that this paper’s Ol’ Editor had seen in him years ago in offering the tutelage that Moran credited as the reason why his first meeting also had been in Marion.

In sharp contrast to overly partisan naysayers of both parties, including the Tea Party darling who now occupies his old seat as 1st District congressman, Moran showed what it means to be a true public servant. It’s not just about listening to voters and echoing their frustrations in lengthy media tirades, letting government grind to a stop in the process. It’s about educating the electorate, crafting compromises that acknowledge a diversity of legitimate views and needs, and above all serving those who sent you to Washington to represent them.

It’s unsurprising, perhaps, that our senator and I share similar views of how Congress should work. Both of us spent a formative summer working as interns in Kansas congressional offices in the politically turbulent mid-’70s. Now, just as the national Republican Party called upon Moran’s predecessor, Bob Dole, to help straighten things out for the party after Watergate, Republicans in the Senate have called upon Moran to serve as chair of their campaign committee — the group that recruits and supports senatorial candidates nationwide.

Republicans should take great comfort in knowing that their party’s future in the Senate is now largely in the hands of someone who understands and appreciates the need to make better laws, not better media controversies. As Moran ably proves, it’s possible to be conservative and progressive at the same time, dealing with problems like health care via small initiatives that address underlying causes one at a time. In a time when we’re told the only options are either huge, malfunctioning bureaucracies or totally paralyzing inaction, it’s refreshing to find a political leader who neither a naïve, overreaching cheerleader nor a do-nothing, mean-spirited cynic. We could use 534 just like him in Washington and even five just like him on the Marion City Council.

— ERIC MEYER

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