We’re Losing the Voice of Reason

The decision of Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine, to retire from the Senate is more than a little troubling. We’ve suffered through more than three years of gridlock as senators and congressmen from both sides of the isle refuse to work together. They point fingers at each other like little children, accusing the other of not playing fair, of not having the country’s best interests at heart. Fewer and fewer of our elected leaders are willing to work together, and the moderates are starting to leave what they perceive as a sinking ship. But where does that leave us as the passengers?

Olympia Snowe was one of the increasingly few voices of reason in the Senate, willing to work with Democrats and Republicans alike and find compromises that would result in solutions that moved us forward. The online edition of the Washington Post said, “Snowe has made a reputation, over 33 years in Congress, as someone eager to build political bridges between moderates from both parties. But in recent years, she has become an increasingly isolated voice in a Congress hobbled by partisan gridlock.”

The easy answer, to vote these uncompromising people out of office, is no answer at all because we only know some of them, the very verbal ones whose names are always on the news, and there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable people to take their place. What’s even more disturbing, though, is that not only are our leaders unreasonable, I see an increasing number of our citizens who are caught up in the same uncompromising nonsense, the same mean-spirited name-calling of people in the party they don’t support, and I haven’t heard any voices of reason loud enough to be heard over their shouting.

I don’t blame Senator Snowe for leaving. There is a limit to the nonsense that reasonable people can suffer before they’ve had enough. It’s all well and good that we have our wonderful Constitution, but that document isn’t what governs our country and the people that were elected to do so are not up to the task. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling very helpless right now, and I don’t have a good feeling that things will change come next January, no matter who is elected.

ADDENDUM:  I opened our paper this morning and this was the headline.  The gridlock is at every level of our government, not just the federal.

Front page of Virginian-Pilot, March 1. 2012

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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26 Responses to We’re Losing the Voice of Reason

  1. All hope is not lost, Susan. Angus King announced he was entering into the race. I liked him when he was our state’s governor. It would be wonderful to have an independent in the seat.

    • Coming East says:

      I haven’t heard that news, Darla. I’m going to check him out.

      • It just happened today. He is the voice of reason!

      • Coming East says:

        I’m excited about this, Darla! Believe it or not, I forgot all about this until you sent your latest comment. How sad is that? Didn’t I just read your previous comment less than an hour ago? I’m going to go look him up now before I forget again!

      • Coming East says:

        I just looked up King on the Internet, and the picture I saw made him look a lot like Joshua Chamberlain, another distinguished Maineiac. I have to tell you, though, that I’m bitterly disappointed. When you said King was running, I thought you meant for president.

  2. We should all know our particular elected officials – not necessarily personally, but in terms of their leadership. We should not leave our acquaintance with them to the chance of who becomes a nationally known representative of a specific local district. If we know our representative’s policies (and I’m using that term generically, to include senators), voting them into or out of office is still a solution. In any case, you are absolutely right – losing the moderates harms the electorate.

    I wondered, when I heard Sen. Snowe’s decision, how her constituents feel about it. It seemed on the one hand as though, as you say, no one could blame her. But on the other hand, it seemed she was abandoning the people who put their faith in her. Of course, she’s merely deciding not to run again – she’s not leaving in the middle of a term. Still, as I always wonder with politicians, I question whether her reason truly is the partisanship, or if that’s just what she says the reason is.

  3. Al says:

    Good post Susan and of course, very topical. I think though, that if any of us did any serious research into the elections after George Washington’s first two terms, we would find that those were equally, if not more, contentious than they are today. Looking back at some of the political cartoons of those days, one sees that vitriol is not something that came about in just the last few elections. It’s the nature of the beast.

    If you’ve read my 12 immutable laws of politics on my other blog, you remember the first three deal with the fact that it is all about power and money, nothing else. Yes, this is cynical and pragmatic but is there any evidence to refute it? Even the ones that go into politics with the most honorable of intentions fall prey to the “Sirens.”

    Look at Kennedy, here was a man who, had he remained politically chaste, could have made a tremendous difference. He had all the political capital he needed. But, seduced by power (he already had the money), he ended up getting involved with women and nefarious types, lost his focus and eventually his life. I think if he had paraphrased his most famous quote to: “ask not what power and money can do for you, but what good you can do with power and money,” and lived up to it, he would have been the best President since Lincoln.

    I guess what I’m saying is, don’t look too hard for that politician on the white horse. It will pretty much always be a case of the lesser of evils.

    • Coming East says:

      I agree with all you said, Al, but at least we used to be able to work together enough of the time to get things taken care of. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. We don’t have to agree on everything, but we do have to know how to work together for the good of the country.

  4. Amy says:

    Your post reminded me a story. A good friend of mine, her son graduated from Harvard Law School, who rejected several high-pay job offers and was willing to take a job in DC (which paid not even 25% of those job offers). His long-term goal was to be a politician and do great things for people. To make the long story short, three year later, he took the job he rejected, because he was disappointed, also said that he had enough. That was almost some 8 years ago…

    • Coming East says:

      It has been going on for a long time, hasn’t it, Amy, as your story poignantly shows. I think the whole system is broken. The elected leaders are supposed to work for us, but they aren’t listening to what we want. The thing that disturbs me is the number of people in this country who are also not willing to compromise. They are the ones who keep voting for these politicians. I wish there were such a thing as time travel so we could bring back some of our Founding Fathers and see what they would have say about all this.

      • Amy says:

        David McCullough was descriptive about how people sacrificed their lives to free the country in the John Adams and 1776. It’s heartbreaking to see these politicians are so out-of-control! When I think about the last part of Obama Inauguration Speech, I just want to cry.
        ‘In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, … the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
        “Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive….”‘

      • Coming East says:

        My husband read McCullough’s book. Maybe I need to read it, too. Those words are heartbreaking in light of what is happening now, and our elected leaders just don’t get it.

  5. Shary Hover says:

    I find the current political climate so depressing. Why can’t we (citizens and politicians) look for the things we have in common instead of highlighting our differences? We could get so much more done if we focused on finding solutions together rather than villifying those with differing opinions.

  6. You beat me to the post! Olympia Snowe was one of the reasons I moved to Maine… she represented the state with intelligence, honor and integrity. She truly understands her job, to talk and listen to all of her constituents, not just those who agree with her, and work with ALL members of Congress to create change in America. Interesting to note than people all across our nation, not just Mainers, are grieving her voice.
    As a side note, I read both articles. I was stunned by the headline of the Washington Post article, “Senator Olympia Snowe announces retirement: Can GOP hold her seat?” If the most important part of their article (which would be indicated by the headline) is to know whether to take a red or blue marker out of the box, the Washington Post really doesn’t get it!!!!!

    • Coming East says:

      No, they don’t get it, Carol. I don’t care about the red and the blue states. As Olympia Snowe said, it should be about the red, white, and blue. I’m so sick of division.

  7. Several political things that happened in the past week, have propelled me to consider using a page of my blog http://www.theblacktortoise.com to comment on the political wrangling. This takes a lot of work and research, with is why The Black Tortoise has been languishing. Would you be interested in becoming a contributing writer? I plan to be non-partisan and as even-handed as possible. Most important, not mean or petty. That said, it will be opinion.

    A piece on Mitt Romney and his comments about trees and cars is another example of focusing on the wrong things. I don’t need a best friend in office, I need a leader.

    • Coming East says:

      I’m flattered that you would want me to be a contributing writer, Adela. I think it would take more time than I could devote to it. I have a hard time coming up with just one post a day, and I don’t always make it. I will enjoy following your political blog, though. Thanks so much.

    • Coming East says:

      Just went to The Black Tortoise, Adela. What a beautiful site! You are a creative and prolific writer!

  8. notquiteold says:

    My observation is that divisive partisan politics has become so much more extreme since the death of Ted Kennedy. It seems to me that he was an extremely powerful force in Washington, but used it to get folks from BOTH sides to work together. Since when has compromise become a dirty word?

  9. mairedubhtx says:

    I, too, was very upset to learn of Olympia Snow’s decision to not run for Senate again. I understand her frustration with the animosity in Congress. It must be terrible to truly want to work for progress and have partisan politics surround you at every turn. She will be sorely missed.

  10. Last Sunday I posted “Winners vs Losers” about a movie that came out back in 2005. As I read your posts and comments, it occurs to me that we are watching failure after failure in the political arena, too. People leaving. People on the scene for a nanosecond and then disappearing…forcefully or for circumstances beyond their control. Scandal. Who will rise up and lead us, capture our imagination and most of all point us to hope? I’m still bummed that we are no longer publicly supporting the space program.

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