Arlington, VA

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Yesterday, the Progressive Voice’s Krysta Jones wrote about what has happened in Virginia after the jarring revelations about Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring earlier this year. She tries to answer whether it has been an opportunity for “racial healing and atonement?” It is an important question.

Ms. Jones goes on to discuss things that have been done and things that can be done. Before making a suggested addition to her list, let’s first look at the current state of our politics.

Here is a question for all of the Democrats in Arlington. Would you have let Northam and Herring off the hook for something that happened four decades ago if they were Republicans?

Why do I ask?

Over the past few days, former Vice President Joe Biden came under fire for emphasizing the use of bipartisan relationships to get things done. He even went so far as to say, “there’s an awful lot of really good Republicans out there.”

Some Democrats pushed back. They seemingly would have preferred the quote have been, “Republicans are an awful lot.”

The rationale seems to be, these Republicans voted for President Trump. Therefore, they cannot be good. Remember when Senator Barbara Favola said Republican candidates in 2017 were evil?

Too often both sides have been guilty of stoking the fire of hatred for the other side. That we are dangerously divided politically right now can only be addressed if the people currently in opposing camps dial back the tribalism.

So here is the suggestion for Ms. Jones. Talk to some Republicans. Let’s have a “working lunch or dinner.” You bring three other Democrats. I will bring three other Republicans.

Let’s have a conversation to gain a better understanding of our experiences, our motivations, our expectations for the future. We can talk about race. We can discuss policies that increase opportunity. We can talk about things we can do right here in Arlington to strengthen our community.

It certainly will better inform our opinions than a 60 second sound bites on cable news, or a Facebook comments section argument, or a Tweet storm.

Mark Kelly is a 19-year Arlington resident, former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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