Pine Nuts: We can take a lesson in civility from the Old World

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Sunday evening I was captivated by C-SPAN’s excellent coverage of British Prime Minister David Cameron answering rapid-fire questions from his parliamentary colleagues.

Were that not entertainment enough, there followed a reading of a letter of resignation from the Clerk of the House that had me standing in awe, and regretting the loss of such magnanimous civility in our own dear country.

I cite a portion of that letter here…


I write to inform you that I have indicated to Her Majesty The Queen that I wish to surrender my Patent as Clerk of the House at the end of August this year. I shall then have served the House for 42 years, over eleven Parliaments, and for the last decade at the Table.

I am so grateful to have had, throughout my service, and especially over the last three years, the support and friendship of Members on all sides of the House, as well as the happy camaraderie, support and counsel of my colleagues at all levels.

I have spent much of my career seeking to make the House and its work better understood by those whom it serves: the citizens of the United Kingdom. For I believe that with understanding comes valuing, and with valuing comes ownership. And our citizens should feel pride in the ownership of their Parliament.

…So too the work of individual Members, often as the last resort of the homeless and hopeless, the people whom society has let down. This is a worthy calling, and should be properly acknowledged and appreciated.

This House is the precious centre of our Parliamentary democracy; and with all my heart I wish it well.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Rogers


Mr. Rogers’ retirement is in stark contrast to the retirement of Maine Republican United States Senator Olympia Snowe: “It’s a reflection of the political dynamic in America, where we don’t look at America as a whole. We look at it through the red and blue prism. And so it becomes more divisive and I think ultimately has manifested itself in the Senate and an overall process that lends itself to dysfunction and political paralysis that doesn’t allow problems to be solved.”

Senator Feinstein of California added her condolences: “This body is supposed to be a great deliberative body. It’s supposed to do what’s right for the nation. If everything here is political, to score points rather than solve problems, then what good is the United States Senate? It’s a heartbreak. And it’s a heartbreak to lose Snowe, candidly.”

“Unfortunately,” concluded Snowe, “I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term.”

Well, here we are, embarking upon midterm elections. Let’s see if we can’t find a diamond in the rough out there, a Mr. Rogers or Ms. Rogers, to help us rekindle our pride in being citizens above party members, and reclaim the unanimity defined in the “United States of America.”

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