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Step back from the issue and consider what we have become.

So many of us are dispirited by the lack of true leaders, the polarization or our communities into blue and red teams that leave

no room for negotiation or compromise, and representatives marching lock-step with the orders of party bosses.

Don't we despise that system?

Don't we want political leaders who will be independent, who will find common ground to solve complicated and serious problems in our world?

Step back from the issue a bit further and think about what Roy McDonald did this week.

McDonald has been a staple of the political scene around here for three decades. As Wilton town supervisor for 23 years, he is both revered and despised for making Exit 15 a retail business hub that changed his town forever while holding property taxes at bay. His enemies often said there wasn't a landscape he wouldn't pave.

Some see him as an ambitious self-promoter, a consummate politician and a conservative Republican on the side of big business. He was elected to the state Assembly in 2002, then the state Senate in 2008 when Joe Bruno stepped aside.

Last Election Day, secure in an impending landslide re-election, he spoke passionately of a Legislature that had become a snake pit of downstate vipers. He said he expected more from members of the state Senate beyond serving themselves.

When you are trying to make deals with the guys on the other side of the aisle, questioning their ethics and morality is not the way to win hearts and minds.

But that is Roy McDonald.

This week, he raised the stakes considerably. It is one thing to call out a fellow senator when the cops are at the door, and quite another to stand nearly alone on an issue that many elected officials run from.

Roy McDonald, representing a district where many constituents are so far right they would never make a left turn, announced he was voting for gay marriage.

He did it with classic McDonald flair.

He said he was tired of Republican-Democrat politics. He said they could take this job and shove it if the people didn't like it. He even dropped an exasperated F-bomb.

The most important thing to remember, and the thing that you should consider most, is he said he was trying to do the right thing.

In the face of adversity, while breaking ranks with his own party and many of his constituents, he said this was a matter of conscience.

Consider the courage that took.

Consider the ramifications it could have on his political future.

There is no reason for Roy McDonald to break ranks and cast this vote unless he was indeed following his heart.

Perhaps he has been softened by being a grandfather and taking up the fight of autism for two of those grandkids.

Perhaps, at 64, he realizes he is far closer to the

end than the beginning and it is time to make a difference.

You can disagree with him on this issue, but no matter how strong your passion, you should not confuse the issue with the man.

We need more people who are willing to change their minds, who are willing to listen to the other side and evolve.

The world changes.

Our culture changes.

We should applaud a leader willing to change with it.

Even if we disagree with him.

Ken Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at tingley@poststar.com. You can read his blog "The Front Page" daily at www.poststar.com or his updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/editor67.

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