It was Brennan’s birthday, 2019.
I secured a last minute meeting with a very influential person in the Pennsylvania legislature and, despite it being his birthday, Brennan happily stayed home with the boys so that I could make progress on our Newborn Screening bill.
As I was filling this person in on HB1081 (which failed) and HB730 (which wasn’t moving), he pulled the bill up on his computer and sighed. He looked me in the eye and told me that HB730 was dead. Incredulous, I asked why.
The next ten words changed everything for me.
“They don’t want to give a Philly Democrat a win.”
The Republicans in the legislature were going to let my second attempt at reforming Newborn Screening – and saving lives – die simply because of the party that introduced this nonpartisan legislation.
In that moment, as I processed what he was saying, the idea that extreme partisanship was dangerous began to emerge in my mind. The Republicans would rather allow babies to die from treatable conditions than give credit to a Democrat.
Those ten words would repeat in my mind over and over again as I change course, played the game, and got SB983 to the finish line in 2020. They repeat in my mind still.
Had that meeting not happened, I think I still would have become nonpartisan but it would have taken longer. I had already been “deconstructing” politically since 2016 but didn’t know how to describe my feelings. That single sentence made all of my political frustrations so clear and I’ve never looked back.
I’ve been talking about partisanship and urging people to step back and consider where it is leading us for a couple of years now. Many others have been doing the same. Sometimes I feel as though what I’m doing isn’t making a difference even though I believe in nonpartisanship (or at least the absence of extreme and divisive partisanship) so deeply.
This morning I realized that for those deeply entrenched in their party, it’s going to take a moment just like it did for me. Maybe some have considered my pleas to “listen to understand” and ask “what if I’m wrong?” in an effort to lessen the divide. Maybe events like January 6th were the catalyst for others. Whatever it is going to take, please look for that moment. Be open to it. We simply cannot continue on this path as a country.
I promise you that you have more in common with “the other party” than you may think. I promise you that “the other party” isn’t entirely evil, isn’t out to “destroy” our country. I know it’s hard to believe because I once believed all the partisan rhetoric. But, being where I am now – nonpartisan – has allowed me to freely consider ideas from all sides and decide which makes the most sense.
Please stop only listening to what your party is saying. Step back, ask “what if I’m wrong?” with a spirit of humility and a willingness to “listen to understand” and see what happens. It has been life-changing for me and I experience peace like never before.
Give it a try. For the sake of our country’s future, I desperately urge you give it a try.