By: Ted Dabrowski
Politics has moved from disagreement into rude, public attacks.
When your own elected representative confronts you in public – as if taking cues from Sen. Maxine Water’s political playbook – it becomes all the more outrageous.
I just experienced that first hand. My own state Senator, Daniel Biss, approached me in front of the food counter at my local Panera. He was nasty and aggressive in what he said and how he said it. And he thought he could just walk out and have the last word.
Some background first.
Sen. Biss and I have argued public policy in the past, both in panel discussions and policy forums. We’ve always been on opposite sides, whether it’s been pensions, income taxes or health care reforms.
For example, I’m for ending defined benefit plans and giving government workers control over their own retirements. Biss is for preserving the current pension system. I’m for scaling back government costs to what Illinoisans can afford. He’s for a progressive income tax hike so government can do more.
Biss has never liked my positions and he’s let me know that in the past. But this time was different.
He was leaving Panera with a companion when he saw me, then approached me while I waited in line at the counter. The following exchange took place:
Biss, to his colleague: “Do you know this guy? Do you know this guy?” His companion shook her head, no.
“This is Ted Dabrowski. He’s a horrible person.”
I smiled, thinking the opening joke was over and that we’d actually have a normal exchange.
But then Biss repeated, emphatically, still looking directly at his colleague, “No, I’m serious. He is a horrible person.”
Still hoping things would take a better turn, I looked at his colleague and said, “Dan and I don’t agree on much.”
Then Dan went on, “We are going to destroy these guys. Destroy them.” At which point he turned around and walked away.
His colleague, now realizing she should walk away, too, seemed confused. I asked her, “Are you a candidate?” She said, “God no.”
And that was that.
Biss apparently thinks he can get away with such incivility. Toward one of his constituents, no less. I’m not surprised. But I am disappointed.
I welcome and respect disagreement on issues and Wirepoints’ worldview. After all, that’s what policy debates are all about. But personal attacks in public are wiping out what little civility remains in politics.
If Biss feels the need to personally confront me in a public space – and say he will “destroy” us – then Wirepoints’ policies and approach must be threatening his narratives. Which could be why he’s resorted to name calling.
I won’t do the same. Instead, I offer Sen. Biss the opportunity to publicly debate me on the policy issues he and I disagree on. We’ll see if he does the right thing.