June 24, 2019


Senate Collegiality Should Be Praised, Not Condemned (Mark Shields, June 23, 2019, National Memo)

Politics, let it be noted, is a matter of addition, not subtraction. Putting together a majority to pass legislation to aid widows and orphans or a majority to win elections requires winning converts to your side rather than hunting down and banishing heretics to the Outer Darkness. Nobody understood this principle better or practiced it more successfully than the late "liberal lion of the Senate," Massachusetts eight-term senator Ted Kennedy. [...]

Those Kennedy initiatives included, to name a few, Children's Health Insurance Program for children of working parents who did not get health insurance from their employers, mental health parity in coverage, immigration reform, AIDS research, ending apartheid, the Americans with Disabilities Act, voting rights and special education funding. Among the Republican senators he worked closely with to write laws were Mike Enzi and Alan Simpson of Wyoming, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Nancy Kassebaum and Bob Dole of Kansas, John McCain of Arizona and Warren Rudman and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. Kennedy was able to do all that by seeking common ground, by never demonizing his Senate opponents, by never making the perfect the enemy of the good.

But now we're in a different political era. The president of the United States regularly demonizes his political opponents, labeling Democrats as "evil." The Democratic Party, he told a rally, is "the party of crime." Make no mistake: More than a few Democrats have responded the same way, censuring Donald Trump in similar rhetoric.

For me to call my political opponent mistaken or misguided on a particular controversy is acceptable and does not preclude her and me working together constructively in the future on a different issue. But when I call you, or you call me, "evil" or "immoral" or "irredeemable," we have foreclosed any possibility of future collaboration. Who in good conscience can collaborate with someone who is "evil," "immoral," and worse?

...and Democrats ought not work with Senators who support racist policies: how do you get to 51 votes, nevermind 60, in a Senate where the GOP supports Donald? Are these presidential aspirants promising not to pass any laws unless they take the Senate too?

Posted by at June 24, 2019 12:00 AM