Recently I experienced a rare, but positive event in the political arena. The event was the Tawes Crab & Clam Bake in Crisfield, Somerset County.
There are three standing traditions at Tawes. One is welcoming individuals with a range of political party affiliations, ideologies, public policy positions on race, age, sexual orientation, and income levels.
Another is engagement in respectful and civil dialogue with all attendees. Last, but not least is elected officials and candidates meeting face to face with voters to listen to their opinions and concerns.
This year, elected officials attending included: Governor Wes Moore, Lt. Governor Aruna Miller and State Comptroller Brooke Lierman,
Candidates included Angela Alsobrooks and Will Jawando, both of whom are running in a primary to be the Democratic candidate to represent Maryland in the U.S. Senate. Candidates also included Chris Bruneau who is running in a primary to be the Republican candidate to represent Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in Congress.
The entire Tawes experience stands in striking contrast to what is now the new normal in politics. This new normal is characterized by intense and often uncivil conflicts over deeply held differences of opinion on a wide range of public policy issues.
Tawes is a great model for politics the way it should be by advancing the following principles: Welcoming and mutual respect for all with diverse backgrounds and perspectives, listen first to understand, and commitment to the concept that we can agree to disagree without being disagreeable.