Kathryn brings my attention to this interview piece with Bob Inglis on Salon.
Bob Inglis is a guy for whom I’ve always had a lot of respect — ever since he got elected to Congress in the early 90s as a fiscal (and cultural) conservative, and then voted against highway money for his own district. This was back when nobody did this. “Conservatives” like Strom Thurmond had always talked a good game, but brought home the bacon. Inglis was a trailblazer.
To listen to Bob Inglis talk is to respect him, just as he respects others — something that sets him apart.
Inglis has always been deeply conservative, and deeply committed to his principles. But the know-nothings of his party unceremoniously dumped him in the last election, basically — as near as I can tell — for not being as angry as they were.
Anyway, this is an interesting passage:
Inglis remembers campaigning door-to-door and encountering hostility for the first time.
“I’m wondering, ‘Why is this happening?’” he said. “And what I came around to is that what happens is the tribe selects you to go to Washington. You believe with the tribe, you agree with them, and you go to Washington as their representative.
“Then you get there and you mingle with these other tribes, and you come to understand their point of view – not agree with it, but understand it. So when that view is presented, you don’t have the same sort of shocked reaction that some of the tribe members at home have to hearing that view.”
He recalled getting to know John Lewis, the civil rights icon and Democratic congressman from Georgia.
“He is an incredible American,” Inglis said. “I just disagree with him on this budget thing. But back at the tribe, at the tribal meeting, it’s like, ‘He’s some kind of Communist, that John Lewis. He’s not an American.’ No! He’s an incredible American. He’s one of our heroes.
“But the tribe doesn’t see that. The tribe sees you as sort of getting too cozy with John. And then they start to doubt you, because of this betrayal response. We are hard-wired to respond very violently – as I understand it, the brain really responds to betrayal. It’s one of the strongest human emotions.”…
Inglis, a conservative Republican to his core, speaks here to a very UnParty sensibility. You have your principles and you stand up for them. But that doesn’t mean you delegitimize those with whom you disagree. If you do that, the deliberative process upon which our system of government is built collapses.
Bob understands that. Too few who still hold office do.