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A repost of one of my first blog entries: Reflections

December 16, 2009

Below is one of my first blog entries from 2009.  I was reflecting on my seven years as a member of the Washington State House of Representatives recently and found it interesting to look back at how I viewed the work and challenges when I first assumed office in January 2009.

It’s simple and romantic but authentic from my core being.  I hope we as a state have the courage to tackle real issues together.  I hope you feel I have been effective at giving voice and leadership to real issues impacting real people.

This blog has become widely read by constituents and others, and I so appreciate the respect that you’ve shown by returning.

I will be reposting some of my favorite blog entries from the past seven years.

Here’s the post from 2009: 

Something powerful happens when political communities engage in a deeper level of dialogue about tough issues with topics that go to the core of a group’s identity and values.

When Nelson Mandela challenged his country to move beyond the pain of apartheid and be filled with grace, it was a defining moment in human history. The journey of great advocates for peace, change and reform will always filled with a central question of how to engage the people in a deeper dialogue.

The argument for courageous honesty about how government works, what type of systems we need to build, what efforts we should embrace as we stumble into the 21st Century may seem esoteric. But imagine for a moment if we had the courage to ask very, very tough questions about our state government in a politically safe way? Imagine if we had for a time a Renaissance Weekend attitude toward our political dialogue? Imagine if we rewarded those in the street and the boardroom who raised bold, systematic, thoughtful and important questions and did not judge them?

Here’s a specific example of someone tackling a tough issue, within a small community, that shows deep moral courage and honesty. Imagine how his colleagues feel? Imagine how hard it was for him to write this column? Imagine the impact of his words on the conscience of an organization?

On October 20 of this year Robert L. Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, published this extrarordinary guest column in the New York Times.

The founder and 20-year chairman called his own organization to task for losing it’s own moral grounding. I admire that type of deep, meaningful conversation.

Let us find the courage ourselves, in our time and place, to elevate the level of dialogue in our state about the role, values, effectiveness and place of government.

Let us ask real questions and courageously talk without judgement or righteousness. Let us learn from the dialogue itself.

Systems change isn’t just about policies and programs. It is about courageous honesty to engage on a new level about our most pressing public challenges.  Here at home Democrats often are afraid of questioning the institutional grip of the status quo.  Republicans often are afraid of questioning the ideology that guides their party.  We need to break with the expected constraints on all sides in order to find paths forward together.

My great hope as a citizen legislator is that many of the meaningful conversations about systems reform so many of us have in private can come out in the light of day. Education, tax reform, budget choices, health care, housing, public safety, transportation, higher education access/affordability/quality, and more are all so much bigger than the small public dialogue we’ve allowed as a society.

Let’s find the courage together to elevate our own level of dialogue, in a gracious and transparent way, about the pressing issues of our day.  Let’s break with orthodoxy.

I would like to see a deeper dialogue about tomorrow.  I do not pretend to have every answer or approach, but I will strive to raise tough issues, focus on meaningful policy options and be open.  I hope you’ll join me.

We can be so much more than what we’ve become.

Your partner in service,


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