There are times in every person’s life where they look back and think about what could have been. We all take time to ponder the road not taken. This self reflection is a good thing; it allows us to realize that, while what we have might not be perfect, every step in our life has lead us to this point.

It seems to me that many Washington insiders lose focus. I have never been a fan of term limits for Congress but maybe that’s something to consider. Living inside the Beltway means living and breathing government and politics. Yes, all politicians claim to understand the plight of the working man but do they really? Some, certainly, but not all. This reminds me of a quote from The West Wing, which both Rob Lowe and I happen to think is the greatest show ever on television. To set up the quote, two senior aids to the president and one assistant were discussing the day they just experienced campaigning through rural Indiana, and the assistant says:

I am not kidding. I have such an impulse to knock your heads together. I can’t remember the last time I heard you two talk about anything other than how a campaign was playing in Washington. Cathy needed to take a second job so her dad could be covered by her insurance. She tried to tell you how bad things were for family farmers. You told her we already lost Indiana. You made fun of the fair but you didn’t see they have livestock exhibitions and give prizes for the biggest tomato and the best heirloom apple. They’re proud of what they grow. Eight modes of transportation, the kindness of six strangers, random conversations with twelve more, and nobody brought up Bartlet versus Ritchie but you.

And that is precisely the point to be made here. Are we, as readers and writers of political blogs and discussions, just as much at fault? Absolutely! We talk about what Senator Cruz or Representative Pelosi says and how that shows how disconnected they are with the real world. We talk about how their comments will play inside the Beltway and how that’s going to further stall discussion on whatever major bill is presently pending.

The next time you’re having a discussion with someone, regardless of topic, utilize the two second rule – you wait two seconds before responding to whatever the person said. Today, it’s almost a sign of weakness to have silence, to not be prepared with a response. I disagree: the silent are the intelligent. When you wait two seconds, you give your mind time to digest what was just said and formulate a proper response. Yes, your brain can do that in two seconds. In addition, and even better, when you know you’re going to wait two seconds, you no longer have to start thinking about your response while the other person is still speaking. So, not only do you give them the respect of actually listening to them, you also provide a response to what was said and not just some memorized talking point.

A good friend recently told me that one person cannot change the system or the way things work. I don’t believe that. Or, maybe more accurately, I don’t want to believe that. I want to believe people and yes, even an individual, has the power to affect change. Maybe that’s naive. But, today seems to be a day of self reflection.

All this discussion about who said what and why the other side is stupid is just superficial. Is it part of the game? Yes but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s raise the level of discussion. Let’s start talking about the lady who had to take a second job, let’s talk about the local fair, let’s stop using the pre-recorded responses. Let’s not be threatened by the issues. Let’s stop focusing on the minutia and the superficial and raise the level of public debate in this country! Who’s with me?

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Bryan is the founder of 2 Rights Make a Left. While obtaining his J.D., Bryan researched and wrote extensively on Capital Punishment, an issue that remains close to his heart to this day. He has spent the majority of his adult life involved in politics in some form or another. Bryan spends most of his time reading, writing and discussing all things politics. Bryan loves to travel and, if he had his way, would constantly be jetting off to another destination. The rest of his time is spent following his beloved Bears, Bulls and Cubbies.

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