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Reporter’s Notebook: Tolerance Or Tantrums? It’s Not Just Politicians Who Need To Choose

 January 6, 2020 at 10:13 AM PST

Speaker 1: 00:00 California law makers reconvened today for their 2020 legislative session, but for the first time in nearly a decade, Capitol public radio's Bureau chief and Adler won't be joining them before he moves into a new role with the station. He digs back into his reporters notebook to reflect on our polarized political debate. Here's the final piece and our California dream collaboration series on solutions. In the spring of 2017 when democratic assembly speaker Anthony Renden shelved a single payer healthcare bill Speaker 2: 00:30 cost doubled the state budget and didn't have a funding source attached dude. It was a bill that was woefully incomplete. Speaker 1: 00:36 The California nurses association posted a violent graphic to social media, a knife with the word Renden on it, stabbing the California grizzly bear in the back. The union's done. Nielsen defended the image. Speaker 3: 00:47 I think it represents very well what the speaker did. Yeah, he stabbed California residents in the back. Speaker 1: 00:53 Weeks later, governor Jerry Brown crossed party lines to negotiate a cap and trade deal with a block of Republicans, assembly minority leader Chad Mayes acknowledged the political risk. Speaker 2: 01:03 What they decided was that they were going to put the people of California ahead of their own careers. Speaker 1: 01:09 Nan did. Sher was influential. Conservatives like John Fleischman forced maze to resign his leadership post. Speaker 3: 01:16 Most hardworking Republican activists. I expect our legislators to draw a line in the sand. Speaker 1: 01:21 Despite these pressures, someone makers still seek connections, compromise and karaoke once a year. The legislature's cordial caucus convenes for a karaoke night with drinks and some below average singing democratic state Senator Stephen Bradford told me it makes finding common ground a lot easier. Speaker 4: 01:42 Events like this allow us to sit down outside of the party, outside the building, outside the politics, and get to know one another. Speaker 1: 01:50 And former GOP, Senator Tony Strickland said, politicians do know how to disagree without being disagreeable. Speaker 4: 01:56 If you really want stability, you need to hear what the other side's talking about and have some respect that your constituents, your active ones are pressuring you to go further and one direction without that question. That's why it's a comment upon leaders to lead. Speaker 1: 02:10 Sometimes they do. Earlier this year, governor Gavin Newsome and lawmakers from both parties resolved one of the nation's most polarizing debates with a compromise. Three 92 is now law in the state of California assembly. Bill three 92 raise the legal standard for when police can use deadly force after months of negotiations. The final deal drew bipartisan support. Here's its author, democratic assembly woman, Shirley Webber. They always say, if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together and here's Republican assemblyman, Tom Lackey. Speaker 2: 02:43 When you have true leadership, really polarized positions can come together, Speaker 1: 02:48 but it's not just politicians who must choose between tolerance and tantrums. It's the rest of us too. It can be hard to find tolerance of the other side, even perhaps from ourselves. Yet every once in a while there's a moment like this one outside of Trump speech in Reno in August, 2017 Speaker 5: 03:07 Kevin, you're wearing a make America great again hat. Actually, this is signed by president Trump and his son and Kathy. You're holding a black lives matter sign made this in my backyard last night Speaker 1: 03:19 as police held protesters and supporters apart, there were Kevin coffee and Kathy Blaine just talking with each other Speaker 5: 03:26 first a little bit, and now I kind of feel like he's a friend. Love and respect your neighbor and understand that some people don't agree with that. Speaker 1: 03:35 In my 20 years as a journalist, I've only felt comfortable advocating for two things. Donate to your local public radio station and vote. But as I turned in my reporting gear, I think I'm ready to add one final thing to that list. Just because you disagree with someone's political views that doesn't make them a bad person at the state Capitol. I'm Ben Adler.

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As a veteran California Capitol reporter leaves the beat, he digs back into his reporter’s notebook to reflect on our growing polarization. His takeaway? Just because you disagree with someone’s political views, it doesn’t make them a bad person.
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