Is governing for the common good poised to make a comeback?
REPRINTED FROM CHICAGO NOW
By Bob Schneider, February 19, 2018 at 9:37 am
It is an old idea that has been slipping away over the past few decades, governing for the common good. It is a concept which puts the welfare of the nation ahead of political parties. An idea which places reality ahead of political expediency. It is a method of overseeing a society that looks at itself as a nation unified in pursuing common goals in a spirit of compromise and listening to opposing views with respect.
In short, the polar opposite of the political landscape of today.
If one wants to destroy a nation and to do it in the most painful way possible, then introduce doctrinaire, political ideology into the mix as “truth.”That is what the major parties in America have done. Doctrine is the highest rung on the political ladder in the USA. The next step down are the parties. The third step on the rickety political stepladder are the cults of personalities that surround those we elect to office. The lowest rung is the U.S. Constitution.
I spent forty-four years in the GOP, working in Republican Politics at high levels in Washington, DC. I am guilty of helping to perpetuate the division that is slowly choking our nation. It is one of my three great regrets of my lifetime. The three candidates in this article are working to undo the damage of partisan rancor of the past fifty years.
The political landscape is changing. In one of the reddest of the Red States, North Carolina, a poll taken by a university revealed that a clear majority of the population are tired of the partisan bickering, and want Congress to work together to get things done. The ideology game is wearing thin.
Several candidates have picked up on this voter trend, and are promising to work across the aisle to solve problems and end the partisan rancor.
Conor Lamb Campaign
Conor Lamb (D, PA-18) in Southwestern Pennsylvania (website, Facebook) is running in a special election for the seat vacated by Tim Murphy after Murphy was caught up in a sex scandal. Mr. Lamb is a former Marine and is a respected former Federal Prosecutor. He has successfully prosecuted heroin dealers and violent criminals.
Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District covers the South Suburbs of Pittsburg. Gerrymandering has made the district deep red. Mr. Lamb’s opponent, a highly partisan, and ideological extremist Republican Rick Saccone, should be giving Mr. Lamb a sound thrashing. The White House is directly supporting Mr. Saccone’s candidacy. It is not working out that way. In a poll by Monmouth University, Mr. Lamb is within the margin of error. The poll results have set off alarm bells in the wake of the loss of a safe GOP seat in Alabama.
Mr. Saccone’s ideological ties to Donald Trump may be harming him in a district where the GOP usually carries the Congressional elections by 20%. Mr. Trump’s approval rating is a weak 51%, and his disapproval rating is 47%.
Part of the appeal for GOP voters in the district is Mr. Lamb’s pledge not to support Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as the Democratic Party Leader. The GOP has been successful in vilifying Ms. Pelosi, and Mr. Lamb’s promise is a clear message to voters this is not business as usual.
Katie Wilson (D, NY-21) is running in Upstate New York’s 21stCongressional District (website, essay). She is part of a crowded primary field seeking to send the incumbent, Elise Stefanik back home to the Adirondacks. The district voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but it also contains pivot counties-those counties that voted for Barack Obama, then went for Trump in the last election.
Ms. Wilson is a single Mother and small business owner. Should she win her primary election, she will face an opponent who has been a loyal Trump soldier and has fallen prey to putting the GOP agenda ahead of concerns back home.
Ms. Wilson’s essay on why she is running for office is unlike the canned partisan responses many candidates use. She speaks on her website about issues important to people in the District and does not ramble in ideological platitudes. She talks about economic development and how important that is for the future of the North Country. When was the last time we heard a Democrat mention building business? This candidate is a refreshing change and not run of the mill.
Gina Collias Campaign
Gina Collias (R, NC-10) Not all of the candidates seeking to build bridges are Democrats (website, article). I wrote an article about Ms. Collias two weeks ago. Her opponent in the primary election is the Chief Deputy Whip in the House of Representatives, Patrick McHenry.
Mr. McHenry is a darling of Wall Street and has risen in House Leadership due to his ability to raise vast sums of money. He is having a fundraiser at a ski area out west with his financial services pals. Ms. Collias views this as a weakness. What is Wall Street doing for their mostly agricultural district? As it turns out, not much, but they are doing a lot to help Mr. McHenry with his political ambitions.
Ms. Collias sees her job in Congress as taking care of all people in the District and is not running for Congress with any ambition other than to serve her constituents. “We need another bridge across the river so people can get to work,” Ms. Collias said to me in an interview.
Like Ms. Wilson and Mr. Lamb, she rejects much of the party rhetoric, instead focusing on the needs of the District and not the needs of the National Party. She is so bipartisan that she was asked to speak at the Women’s March a few weeks ago.
While she does not say the recent tax cut bill is a mistake, she states on her website that it needs a technical correction to pick up the 99% of Americans the new law leaves behind. That message rings true in a district where polling indicates the voters want more bipartisan working together, rather than the divisiveness in Congress her opponent helps perpetuate.
Are we on the cusp of a New American Moment that emphasizes service to the nation, rather than self-service? It is too early to say. We must wait for the answer, but there are new and refreshing approaches to campaigning that reject the status-quo.