We live in a toxic political environment today. Ideology seems to trump reason. Civility and understanding are now viewed as signs of weakness.
When Vice President Biden first came to the Senate, Mike Mansfield (D-MT), one of the greatest statesmen in our nation’s history, took him under his wing. One day during a weekly one-on-one meeting it was clear to Mansfield that Biden was upset. Biden related an issue Jesse Helms had taken. After Mansfield informed Biden that his perception of the Helms stance was mistaken, he told him two things:
“Joe, every man and woman sent here is sent here because their state recognizes something decent about them. It’s easy to find the parts you don’t like. I think your job, Joe, is to find out that part that caused him to be sent here.”
“Joe, never question another man’s motive. Question his judgment but never his motive.”
Statesmanship is a rare commodity, and conspicuously in short supply today, which makes Mansfield’s advice particularly relevant today.