Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

January 2, 2012

OUR VIEW: At dawn of New Year, a call for civility

— Each new year brings with it an inherent hopefulness in our own lives and the larger world around us, this one in particular — if only because it isn’t 2011.

Over the past year, our nation has become mired in political pettiness and partisan gridlock. People on both ends of the political spectrum took center stage and the centrists were sent to the back of the line.

We hold few illusions about the year to come politically. Republicans and Democrats in Washington have already largely stopped doing the people’s business in favor of their own, getting re-elected. That’s a shame, but unlikely to change anytime soon.

The best that the rest of us can hope for is a more civil tone than we saw in 2010 and 2011. Our country faces big problems — unemployment, income inequality, the national debt and an ever-more-complicated world of nations — to name but a few. If we are ever to solve them, it will require the cooperation of many people whose personally preferred solutions won’t be fully implemented. It will require compromise.

If we learned any single lesson in 2011, it was that neither party has all the answers.

Locally, we see a different strain of the same disease. New York’s thousands of government entities compete for the right to do more stuff. Despite the fact that each of Niagara’s three cities shares a name with the municipality next door, when was the last time we saw real, meaningful cooperation between Niagara Falls and the Town of Niagara, Tonawanda and North Tonawanda or the city and town of Lockport? Taxpayers the region over deserve leadership that seeks to collaborate and reduce costs rather than compete and drive them up.

This will require leaders from both parties who are willing to set aside the generations-old parochial interests of their particular fiefdom in favor of the larger place we call the Niagara Frontier, or more simply, home.

There are many specific issues to be discussed — and rest assured in these pages throughout 2012, they will be — but on this first of days we thought a tone-setter might be in order.

Someone once asked, “Can’t we all just get along?” The answer to that can’t possibly be no. So let’s start acting like it.

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