It’s a good sign that members of the president’s own party are taking him to task for toxic leadership. Just don’t forget your own responsibility as a citizen in future elections. That’s where real change comes.
It feels like this country has been living under clouds since January, when we handed over the national government to Donald Trump and left him to play with a Congress that had gotten out of the habit of doing more than saying “no” to Barack Obama.
So, maybe the sun is peeking out a little bit.
The tweets still keep falling on our heads, but there are bits of blue sky in between, indications that the status quo can change.
Last month, Republican Dave Reichert, who represents Washington’s 8th Congressional District, announced he would not seek re-election. Reichert had been hounded by protesters who want to save the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and who demanded he hold town-hall meetings so that people could question him in person about what’s going on in Washington, D.C.
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I took it as a good sign that people have been mobilizing and holding representatives accountable.
The sun also shone when Arizona Sen. John McCain declared late last month that he could not, in good conscience, vote for legislation that would have repealed ACA.
McCain was quoted saying, “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.”
Imagine Republicans and Democrats working together. Wouldn’t that make most of us feel better?
Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., worked together to create a compromise bill that, if it passes, could stabilize health-care markets. That’s movement in the right direction.
The ACA itself was passed with the support of only one party, and it has shortcomings that need to be addressed. But instead of shoring it up, opponents have used it as a weapon in partisan warfare.
We need more representatives who value the greater good above partisanship. That doesn’t mean abandoning party, because different constituencies vote for the candidate who most closely represents their interests, at least in theory. It does, however, mean knowing when partisanship endangers the national interest.
This is a particularly interesting time in that regard because both of the two dominant political parties are rethinking what they stand for. And some politicians are finally saying that they won’t stand for just anything.
Both Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., stood up for their principles in feuds with Trump. And both are leaving the Senate after their current terms expire. Standing up on the way out of the door isn’t the best sign. (Depending on who replaces them, things could get worse before they get better.) But it’s something.
In a speech on the floor of the Senate this week, Flake said, “We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms, and institutions, the flagrant disregard for truth or decency, the reckless provocations …”
And even former President George W. Bush, after being silent on politics for years, gave a speech full of references to our current leaders and their impact on our democracy and the world.
Bush said, “We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.”
All those speeches and actions parted the clouds for a while, but we’re still in the midst of a storm. Voters are going to have to get us out of it, starting with local elections next month and the midterm congressional elections next year.
It would also be nice to have something to look forward to in 2020. My wife had an idea the other day. She said it would be great if Patty Murray ran for president.
It would be nice to have a leader who just takes care of business. I’d certainly feel sunnier.