Martha Roby, a staunch Republican who just began her second term representing Alabama's 2nd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, has great concern about the division in our nation and, by extension, in Congress. In a small way, she's bridging the gap.
Roby spent some time with the editorial board on Tuesday, and shared a story about a long day of voting on the Farm Bill. Roby was sitting at the end of the row; nearby was Rep. Peter Welch, a Democrat from Vermont. "Alabama and Vermont don't have a lot of common agricultural interests," Roby said. "He was interested in maple syrup and I was fighting for peanuts and catfish."
At one point, a proposal Roby sponsored passed, and Welch leaned over and said, ""You all have some good ideas,' Roby told the board. "Why don't we talk about these things?'"
Does the key lie in personal relationships? In mutual respect? Perhaps.
"We don't spend enough time getting to know each other," Roby said. She cites her friendship with another member from Alabama, Democrat Terri Sewell from the 7th Congressional District. "We're both away from our families, so we sometimes have dinner together," Roby said. "If she and I disagree on 95 percent of issues, then there is 5 percent we will agree on. We have to find that."
The elusive middle ground. Martha Roby may have found the most effective way to get there.
Her colleagues should pay attention.