During my campaign for re-election, I repeatedly used the slogan: “Let’s turn down the volume and silence the rhetoric.” For me, those words were more than a slogan. They will guide my activities as the Legislature convenes in Jefferson City this month.
Unfortunately, politics has become a sport for too many of us — politicians and voters alike. For many it’s a win or lose, zero-sum game, with no referee to throw the penalty flag for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The concerns of our state and country are not a game. We have been elected to transact the people’s business to the best of our abilities. Jobs, health care, education, public safety and transportation are serious issues that require that we work together for the benefit of all.
Republicans and Democrats often approach public policy from different starting points — with different ideological assumptions. I would like to think, however, that all of us want our economy to provide jobs for those who are looking for work, our citizens to receive adequate health care, our schools and colleges to deliver quality education and our cities and roads to be safe. We can’t achieve any of these goals if we spend our time shouting at each other for the purpose of scoring political points or passionate self-interest.
Missouri has more than its share of problems. Unemployment is too high, health care is lacking for too many of our citizens, our educational system is not delivering the quality that we need and our infrastructure is deteriorating — all while our economy is near an all-time low.
I’m not arguing that every issue can be solved by negotiating a middle-of-the-road consensus. Rather, I believe that Missouri is better served if all of us turn down our volume, silence our rhetoric and focus on solving the problems before us. That’s what I think you expect. That’s how I intend to legislate.
Rep. Chris Kelly serves Boone County in the 24th Legislative District.