Olympia’s Departure & the Demise of the GOP Moderate

This past week witnessed the announcement of moderate Republican Senator Olympia Snowe that she will not seek a fourth term, citing the “atmosphere of polarization” in Congress. A fellow senator and bipartisan legislation co-sponsor, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, stated her decision shows she has lost hope.  This is evident in her Washington Post op-edwhere she lectured her hardline colleagues on how the Senate of today is acting against the Founding Fathers’ vision of the Senate as an institution of wisdom. Her proclamation follows similar decisions by conservative Democratic, Senator Ben Nelson, centrist Democrat senators Jim Webb,  Kent Conrad and Jeff Bingaman and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman.

      Lieberman perhaps summed up the personal struggle as to whether to seek re-election in these highly partisan times best when he stated, “I have not always fit comfortably into conventional political boxes. Because I’ve always thought my first responsibility is not to serve a political party but to serve my constituents, my state, and my country.”

      The deviation from representing one’s constituency and country, especially at the federal level, in favor of one party’s agenda is a trend which is shifting our unique form of representative democracy where compromise is key to functionality to an inflexible system which rewards rigid partisanship. Senator Snowe represented one of the few remaining legislators who respected one’s ability to reach across party lines. With her departure at the end of 2012, the Senate will lose a strong voice of sensibility.

      But is leaving the best path to take? Would a more actionable stance to affect change from within come with the formation of an independent caucus of the center? A group of legislators who could come together in an official capacity to escape the persecution of DINO- or RINO-ism and build compromised, legislative collaborations with members of any party willing to do the work of the country.

       We’ve seen all too clearly what the heightened rhetoric and partisanship does to the political discourse. It manufactures crises like the debt ceiling debacle last summer and the contraception battle  currently being fought and places ideology over the needs of the country as a whole. The legislative branch is in desperate need of professionalism and pragmatism. An independent caucus would provide a platform for those current, and future, representatives to make the case for balanced legislation, to reach out to voters and supply them with an alternative to the loudest voices from either side of the spectrum. Legislation from the center will do more for restoring certainty to the economic recovery than more tax cuts or the elimination of regulations could provide. This is about restoring the people’s trust in government more than anything else, trust that the government can operate without petty bickering and trust that it is capable of simply getting something done.

13 Comments to “Olympia’s Departure & the Demise of the GOP Moderate”

  1. What I find fascinating is that the folks on both sides of the aisle who lament the loss of moderates from both parties most vociferously, are often the ones whose charged political rhetoric is part of the problem.

    • It seems you’re implying the liberals are the ones lamenting the loss so they are one with the “charged political rhetoric”. Given the voracious attacks on Obama, anything Democratic, any talk of compromise or anyone moderate from the Right over the last 3 plus years it’s fairly difficult accept that as accurate.

  2. I notice that Sen. Lindsey Graham is quoted in the Washington Post of March 2, so can I just say, for the record, that I did not know about her views when I drafted my What’s wrong with a Meritocracy?, which was posted on March 3.

    • Martin, I didn’t see where you mention Graham in that post.

      • I don’t – but I do talk a lot about the USDI and the Founding Fathers dream turning into a nightmare!

      • 2nd attempt to answer (not sure what happened first time)… I did not mention Lesley Graham (because I had never heard of her) but I did talk about the US Declaration of Independence; and how the Founding Fathers’ vision has now turned into a nightmare!

      • I noticed your 1st comment ended up in my spam folder but I retrieved it. Thanks for the clarification on that. I just wasn’t quite sure what you were refering to 🙂

        Oh and Lindsey is a guy… I know, it’s not obvious is it?

  3. Although I greatly favor an independent caucus, but (1) The group would be small, (2) Members would run the risk of losing favor with their financial lifeline – the party and its backers.

    • You know those 2 points did occur to me as well. The group may be small but I could see it as an opening for other representatives to feel comfortable joining up or at least working with its members if it was actually formed. I saw it working in the same manner as in other situations when one or two people speak up it then spurs many others to speak who were just waiting for the opportunity.

      The 2nd point… yes a stickler. But as I wrote it I thought of Lisa Murkowski and her write-in campaign win up in AK. I know, a rare example but then again there are of other independents in Congress like Lieberman and Sanders. And they were able to address the funding issues. They may not have to be “officially” listed as independents. They could be moderate Democrats and Republicans who are willing to work together. My argument here is if no one will stand up nothing is going to change and it may only take 1 or 2 people to do so that would get change moving.

      In the end this post’s purpose was simply to start a conversation. Point out some ideas for change so others may feel like jumping in with their own.

  4. Personally, I think the middle is fertile ground for a third party, but would need the following:some members of both chambers being able to shed their party hats, money, and a prominent spokesperson

    • Yep, very true. Maybe that’s why it hasn’t happened yet. But then again maybe this level of hyperpartisanship and gridlock with cause something to break loose. OR it will make some current members or those wishing to run for office force a shift to more moderate stances. This may have a real chance in those states with open primaries. That was just something that occured to me just now. Open primaries may be one of the keys to breaking the party-first mentality.

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