Rep. Edolphus Towns of New York is retiring when his congressional term expires in January 2013. Many of us crossed the political aisles on Friday night at the Monocle Restaurant to pay tribute to a man whose service has extended for more than 30 years.

It is a sad commentary on our republic when people are surprised that Republicans and Democrats can get along and pay homage to great achievement. What should be shocking is the opposite: the bitter spirit of competitiveness.

Congressman Towns is a friend of many decades, and a tremendous humanitarian. He has served his country. Did I agree with every vote he ever made? No. But is there any member of Congress whose views perfectly match your own? It’s not about that; I’m perfectly capable of having friends who disagree with me, even on fundamental issues; people don’t need to have the exact same thoughts as I have.
It’s about service. Congressman Towns has served his constituency for decades, and there’s a reason why he stayed in office: because he did his job, because he represented them, because he served them as their voice in the halls of power.
He loves this country just as much as I do (and that’s a lot). We might not agree on a particular policy issue, but in the grand scheme of things, we want America to thrive, the standard of living to rise, and peace and harmony to spread in our day.