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One more norm of our country has been broken

Your Turn

David Mann Guest columnist I was a brand new member of Congress when I attended my first joint session of the House and Senate early in 1993. Vice President Dan Quayle presided over the count of the electoral votes that confirmed the 1992 victory of Bill Clinton and Al Gore over President George H.W. Bush and Quayle. I was struck by the irony of the defeated vice president announcing the result in favor of the opposing ticket, just as Vice President Mike Pence experienced Jan. 6. As with Gore’s loss in 2000, the vice president sometimes must announce the end of his own presidential aspirations.

We all wish Pence and the rest of us could have repeated the normal experience – a very short joint session that simply confirms what the country has known since November. It is heartbreaking and very concerning that the joint session last week became a target for insurrectionists. One more norm of our country has been broken.

I have been on the ballot a number of times. Sometimes I won, sometimes I did not. Winning is preferable, I have found. But I have always understood that I had an obligation to accept the losses as well as the victories.

My opponents have never been my enemies. They are fellow Americans who understand the importance of public service and the obligation we each have to debate in a civil, constructive fashion. After the election, we each have the obligation to join together to find common ground and advance our country and community.

Before the sad events at the U.S. Capitol, I wrote a motion asking my colleagues to support lighting City Hall on the evening of Jan. 19. The purpose of lighting our community’s most important local symbol is to celebrate the peaceful transition of power as one president succeeds another. We celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life on Jan. 18, so this lighting of City Hall also symbolizes an important bridge between Black and white Americans as we pledge to address more vigorously the racism in our society.

When I proposed the motion, I could not have imagined the events that occurred on Capitol Hill. As a Navy veteran and longtime public servant, I am appalled by these events. They are a clear departure from our history. I am so proud that seven members of City Council supported the motion and none opposed it.

Our institutions – whether at the local, state or national level – will not survive without basic decency, honesty and the respect for each other’s opinion. As we have boldly engaged locally on reforms to clean up local government from the abuse of some, we need to think about what we can do to change what recently has gone very wrong at the state and national level.

Cincinnati Councilman David Mann of Clifton is chair of the budget and finance committee and a former one-term congressman. He is running for mayor in 2021.

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