January 17, 2011 7:48 PM
Just before today's State of Wisconsin celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday in the Capitol Rotunda, I met with new Governor Scott Walker in his office just a few steps away in the East Wing.
It was a productive meeting, less about specific policies than about establishing a working relationship between the two of us. I congratulated him on his new job and told him I hoped to have a chance to work with him as mayor of Madison for the next four years, though the voters are going to have something to say about that this spring. I told him I expected we'd disagree on many issues, but that I hoped we could keep an open channel of communication and I promised to look for ways to work together on things we could agree on. He said that would be his approach as well.
And that seemed like a good way to start out a day that honors the memory and lessons of a man renowned for nonviolent protest and for bringing people together. Getting along isn't about agreeing all the time. Learning to get along is about learning how to disagree while preserving a working relationship. We can't always find our way across the bridge, but if we don't burn it down we preserve the chance to cross it on another day. Particularly after the recent horrific event in Tucson, which the governor referenced in our meeting and in his speech, we need to find a way to turn down the vitriol in this country.
I am going to disagree with this governor. But I'm also going to work hard to not make it personal and to maintain lines of communication. I think that's the kind of America Martin Luther King had in mind.