Changing our democracy

Martin A. Cech

Last Thursday, a Republican state senator from New York changed his vote to an âÄúayeâÄùon the marriage equality bill before him in Albany. When asked why, Sen. Roy McDonald  said in a Sorkinesque sound bite, âÄúYou get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isnâÄôt black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. IâÄôm trying to do the right thing. IâÄôm tired of Republican-Democrat politics. IâÄôm trying to do the right thing.âÄù

Sometimes our public servants let us down by lying and dragging what little hope we had for progress into the mud of their own personal problems. But in this one moment by this state senator from halfway across the nation, we received some respite.
We heard a politician say that this was important than party loyalty. More important than the special interests which finance his campaigns. More important than his own re-election.

We heard an honest man say what he thinks is right in the face of talk radio hosts and Tea Party patriots who will scream âÄútraitorâÄù and âÄútreason.âÄù I donâÄôt harbor any delusions that his words will usher in an era of civility in Washington, D.C., or even in Albany. But I do know that Senator McDonald maybe, just maybe, provided a voice of reason, of progress and of hope that, while fragile, remains more real than all the fine speeches delivered to the cynical masses that we have heard so many times before.

Roy McDonald may not be my FDR or LBJ, but I think heâÄôs more important to me than any current progressive giant ever was. People like Senator McDonald, more than anyone else, are able to change the nature of democracy.