It’s a shame the nice moments can’t last forever. Truth is, there’s a lot of work ahead for this group of lawmakers and it must start immediately.
I hate cliches, but one might fit in this case, because we have kicked the can down the road for so long that something must be done now to correct our country’s problems. And there are many.
Let’s hope the oaths of office recited Thursday contain language such as:
“I will work for the people of the United States, not my political party, to find the best possible solution to our nation’s problems. In doing so, I vow not to worry about repercussions of not voting with the majority of my chosen political party.
“And during the process, I promise to help fellow members of my chamber to understand why we were sent to Washington, and that is to improve the life of all Americans. If I fail to honor this oath, I promise to resign my position immediately.”
If those 535 congressional members could commit to those words, some of our country’s problems might not seem so big. Governing should not always be about who’s right and who’s wrong, nor should it be about assigning blame without offering a better way.
From my point of view, government should ideally involve both political parties bringing their best ideas and solutions to the table. Honest, unbiased debate should follow and a negotiated finalized plan — containing the best of both parties — should move forward and become the solution.
Statesmanship is a lost art in American politics. Definitions describing traits of a statesman vary, but to me it is a politician willing to sit down, negotiate and come to a workable solution to problems. That person must realize that he or she will never get everything they want.
In this era of party over the people’s needs, few seem willing to compromise. Members of both parties dig in and never acknowledge someone from the other party actually has a better idea. If you don’t believe it, consider how often a vote in Congress ends up with every Democrat voting one way and every Republican voting the other way.
When you represent a state like Alabama, for instance, there’s no reason to act as a statesman and work toward compromise. In fact, you risk fallout from voters for even considering an idea from the other political party.
No one is always right or always wrong, so why not embrace different approaches as long as they provide a workable answer in the end? That would be a great legacy for the 113th Congress to embrace.