As we celebrate our birth as a democratic nation this July Fourth, I find myself troubled by the erosion of civility in our nation’s politics. Civil discourse and thoughtful consideration of views and perspectives is vital to a functioning democracy, and every American should be deeply troubled by the efforts of a vocal, angry and sometimes violent minority to tear our nation apart.

We all watched in horror as violent insurrectionists breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, breaking windows, assaulting Capitol police officers and searching with vile intent for the vice president and lawmakers in the building to disrupt the peaceful transition of power. That day marked the first time in American history that this transition was interrupted, though thankfully only temporarily.

The problem is right here at home, too. Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin spews hateful and dangerous rhetoric, saying there would be “blood running out of that building” on Inauguration Day and that “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” At a recent local event, I was accosted and berated by an angry mob spewing hate and trying to intimidate into silence others with whom they disagreed, all simply for holding different political views.

These cowardly attacks are designed to intimidate, scare and erode the trust necessary to the continuation of our democracy, which began on this day in 1776.

This despicable behavior, often seen throughout history used by fascist, totalitarian and authoritarian leaders and wannabes, does not represent who we are as Americans. Such incivility does nothing to further our understanding of fellow citizens or address the all-too-real issues we’re facing, including economic recovery, climate change, public safety, quality public education and health care affordability.

Attacks on our democracy are attacks on us all, so I urge you: Don’t stay silent in the face of the anti-democratic rhetoric and extreme tactics we’re seeing. Now more than ever, we must commit ourselves to defending and supporting a true, civil democracy, no matter which side of the aisle you’re on. It is the patriotic duty of every American to confront extremism and hate wherever it is found and to stand united for the rights of all to engage in civil, peaceful debate.

We can each begin by practicing and promoting civility in our dialogue and actions. Have honest, civil conversations with your neighbors. Look for common ground and how you can work together. At the end of the day, we have far more in common than we do differences.

With New Mexico fully reopened, I’d also encourage you to get offline and into your community. Social media often creates more division in our society by reinforcing existing beliefs and keeping us in information bubbles. And while use of these networks is at an all-time high, civic engagement is facing historic lows.

Though most people focus on the national stage of politics, what’s happening locally has a far greater impact on our day-to-day lives, and there are countless opportunities for you to get involved. Reach out to your representatives about issues important to you, attend County Commission and school board meetings, or join me for constituent office hours this summer in Santa Fe. You may visit www.BrianEgolf.com for more information and ways to get involved.

The history of our nation teaches us that we will not live up to the ideals of our country if we don’t have open, honest conversations aimed at working together and reaching collaborative solutions. As President Joe Biden says, “We are Americans, and there is nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”

This Independence Day, please join me in making a commitment to being a true patriot and defending our Constitution by standing up against the un-American tactics we’ve been seeing. Instead, let’s all engage in local government, truly listen to one another and work together to build an ever greater America for the next generation.

Brian Egolf is speaker of the House of Representatives. He lives in Santa Fe.

(13) comments

Khal Spencer

Since Mr. Egolf mentioned unsavory things going on closer to home, I am a little annoyed that he mentioned Couy Griffin's theatrics by name but failed to mention the left wing thugs who destroyed the obelisk and others on the left who precipitated a riot trying to destroy monuments in Albuquerque. Destroying a war memorial is as un-American as any of the stupidity the far right has embarked on. Having a conversation about politics means doing so even when it is difficult and tedious. Especially in those cases.

If the left is going to only criticize the right and vice versa, none of their messages carry much weight as it is seen as political rather than honest introspection of the state of our Republic. In fact, as a lifelong Democrat, I would prefer to clean my own party's messes before I point at someone else's. Kinda like that story about motes, gleams, and eyes.

"...But as Communists and Fascists showed, the political world is round. If you go too far left or right, you meet in the anti-democratic land of intolerance and violence." -Gil Troy, Professor of History, McGill University

mark Coble

Agreed.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Mike Johnson

Spoken like a true hypocritical, left wing political hack. You do realize the most unAmerican of all things going on today is corruption, and you cannot say you do not engage in same. Please.

Richard Reinders

[thumbup][thumbup]

Andrew Lucero

This is by far one of the most hypocritical and disingenuous opinion pieces I’ve ever read…. It’s Amazing how Egof can call out the Right-Wing extremists but not say a word about the Left-Wing Radicals within his own party. The hateful vitriol and senseless violence and vandalism that we all witnessed over the last year was committed by radical fringe groups from BOTH sides. But Egof would have us believe that all the abhorrent and destructive behavior was un-American and only committed by Republicans. So, I guess all the damage caused by the proletariat rabble was Patriotic because they are Democrats? I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican and I have no use for extremists of any persuasion. But it is clear to see, that it is the hyper-partisan politicians like Egof that are the real problem and a danger to us all. If you want a return to civility and REAL Patriotic American values, then ALL hyper-partisan politicians like Egof and those of his ilk need to be removed. Regardless of political party.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

mark Coble

Very insincere if you don't denounce antifa and blm rioting, looting and murder. Leftists have caused how many millions in losses with riots and looting?

Jim Klukkert

mark Coble- Very opportunistic, very partisan and very divisive unless you can substantiate your ridiculous & slanderous lies that "antifa and blm rioting, looting and murder...have caused how many millions in losses."

So please, present facts with substantive citations, or just go away with your racist taunts.

Mike Johnson

https://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/us/news/breaking-news/insurance-costs-for-george-floyd-riots-will-be-most-expensive-in-history-233905.aspx

mark Coble

Shhhh...Jim will be upset by facts.

mark Coble

Takes one minute to get 23,500 hits on Google re: blm antifa riot damage. Try it Jim, let us know what you come up with. Don't deny the facts? Yes, like others you play race card whenever you get feelings hurt? Racist blacks killing each other in Baltimore Detroit Chicago? Whoops, race!

Richard Reinders

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/27/us/portland-protests-mayor-ted-wheeler.html

https://www.kgw.com/article/news/notable-portland-community-members-join-chorus-for-end-to-downtown-destruction/283-2f8bdb8d-66ce-4033-9207-9cdfcccce152

https://www.kptv.com/night-of-chaos-destruction-in-portland-as-protesters-set-fire-at-justice-center-in-response/video_34039c1b-eb25-50a1-875d-bb97515022d1.html

https://abcnews.go.com/US/year-protests-portland-residents-waning-patience-antifa/story?id=77511470

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.