Senator Mark Udall suggested that Democrats and Republicans mix up the seating arrangements at the State of the Union address next week, instead of following the tradition of having members of each party sit together on opposite sides of the chamber. The proposal seems to be attracting favorable reaction from both Republicans and Democrats. Of course this would only be a symbolic gesture, but think how refreshing it would be to watch the State of the Union address without constantly seeing the usual spectacle of one side of the hall applauding while the other side sits on their hands.
We treat politics all too often as a sporting event, in which we root for whatever our "team," whether Democratic or Republican, decides to support, without having to think too hard about the content of each suggestion. So it might be confusing for some members of Congress to have to search harder to find their colleagues' reactions to various parts of the president's speech before deciding whether to applaud or stay silent--they might even be forced to listen to the speech and decide for themselves what they think about it, or heaven forbid, take cues from members of the opposite party sitting near them. It might also be confusing for the television audience if they can't immediately recognize whether the president said something that their party thinks should be cheered or booed. And mixing up the seating might make it a little harder for all the media talking heads analyzing the speech to figure out which parts they should favor or condemn.
It seems to me all that confusion would be a good thing. The more we can actually think about the merits of the ideas we are debating, instead of reacting to them based on which side of the aisle they came from, the better the quality of the debate.