United we boo (err... stand)

In response to the assassination attempt against Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, some members of Congress have proposed that congressional leaders sit together regardless of party during the 2011 State of the Union address. It's been a tradition - though not a rule - that members sit apart during the speech and it's always highlighted partisan division as one party applauds loudly and the other sits in quiet protest (usually.)

Some Democrats may be hoping that it will spread out the applause to show greater support for the President. Perhaps Republicans will expect to spread around the jeers as in the past members of both parties responded negatively to George W. Bush. Either way, I think it's a positive gesture; the Portland Press Herald highlights: "mixing up the seating would send a strong message to the country and to others around the globe that we remain one nation despite our internal disagreements."

What's upsetting is that it took the death of six people including a federal judge and the wounding of 13 others including the near mortal shot to Gifford's head to spur any effort to try and subvert the violent vitriol that has racked political discourse.

The question is whether or not the call for civility will last long enough to affect policy. I'm a long-term optimist, but in the near future I have my doubts. The biggest hope I have is in the fact that Gifford's survived. I'm not a praying man, so I'll send her my best wishes and warm fuzzy vibes for a quick recovery.

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