Carol Costa: Consensus in Congress? Maybe!
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Did Ronald Reagan say it best? “I’ve always believed that a lot of trouble in the world would disappear if we were talking to each other instead of about each other.” With this Reaganism, I concur. And of late, I think hear the uplifting sound of consensus. It is not loud and pervasive, it resembles more an elusive species we don’t see often, but know it exists. It seems the left and right has found common ground on issues like mandatory minimums, the NSA and certain libertarian issues, OMG, what’s next? A budget! Sorry, my eternal optimist got way out over her skis, I know, we should walk before we run. Right now could very well be the time to find our grace, our common ground, our indoor voices and begin once again the job of governing. Are our politics finally making room for grace?
When Decency Prevails
As August closes out the influx of people to town hall gatherings from coast to coast certainly reveals much different dog days than recent summers gone by. The video of Senator John McCain comforting a so called “taker” was moving and in my view is the epitome of the unfortunate name calling chapter in our nation’s politics. It is McCain’s response that buoys me, he seems like the McCain of old, a Senator willing to engage, willing to buck the march toward government shut down, and default while still holding tight to his conservative principles, the maverick or as some on the way right are calling him, a RINO…that is laughable. If this interaction provides a glimpse into the possibility of real governance and casts aside the anger from both extremes, the DC laundry list of “things to do” is mighty for September. On the domestic front, a budget, a farm bill, immigration reform, and the THUD legislative package are right at the top of the pile. I remain hopeful that the divisive language and extremists will be called out, and leaders will lead.
It looks that process has slowly begun, as Chad Brown, a GOP co-chair from Polk County Iowa has taken leave of his chairmanship citing the party is headed in the “wrong direction”. Specifically noting Iowa Congressman, Steve King’s recent offensive comments comparing undocumented immigrants to drug mules, Brown’s contention is his party is enabling this behavior. He states simply in his resignation, “It’s my opinion that rather than fix the problems that led to such a massive 2012 defeat, the GOP does not seem to seriously want to fix the issues. I think helping a dysfunctional Party that does not want to address its problems is enabling. I do not believe in enabling.” Sounds like Chad Brown is talking the talk (with grace and dignity) and walking the walk, a worthy lesson for any political leader who wishes to engage in conviction politics.
Conservatives and Ideologues
News flash: I am no Mitch McConnell fan, but have you seen the new ad attacking the primary bound Minority Leader? It’s a doozy! Look, as a partisan I love it when the GOP has awesome, and messy food fights. It is usually us on the left doing that, but really, the schism in the GOP is proving to morph conservatism into a mutant monster laying waste to the grand old party. Recently, Senator Ted Cruz, was asked about the possibility of impeaching President Obama, and rather than answering the question with intellectual honesty he pandered to a ginned up audience. Conservative columnist and Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 appointee, Pete Wehner in his August 20, 2013 column in Commentary Magazine suggested a more measured and responsible answer for the Senator writing in part, “A more responsible and genuinely conservative lawmaker would have answered the question asked of him by saying something like this: “Impeachment requires an impeachable offense. The president has done many things I disagree with, and I’m determined to fight and resist them, but that doesn’t mean he has done anything impeachable. He is the elected president, I’m an elected senator, we each have to fight for what we believe and let voters decide how we’re doing. Impeachment is not a political weapon.” Thank you, Mr. Wehner.
We need a smart conservative bench in government to not only craft and mold good laws but also to engage in healthy debate and come to compromise and get something accomplished; it is a noble way to govern. So I am rooting for the leaders; Hanna, LaTourette, Cole, Coburn, Toomey, McCain, Collins and their ilk to call out the ideologues, birthers and those long suffering from Obama derangement syndrome and deliver a conservative, dignified and governing force back to the Republic. The signs are encouraging as more conservatives wrestle to take the GOP in a smarter direction, are we on the path to consensus, I certainly hope so.
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