A Senate breakthrough for compromise
May 24, 2005
Politics is the art of compromise.Fourteen members of the U.S. Senate demonstrated Monday they haven’t forgotten that truism when they managed to put together an agreement to end the arcane maneuvering on filibustering and allow Congress to get back to work.
Frankly, we think most Americans were weary of the shrill pronouncements from the far edges of both parties. Judicial nominations are an important issue; they aren’t the only issue. And, usually, principle must be the ultimate consideration.
In this case, the principle is a functioning Senate and a trust among its members.
“People at home are going to get very upset with me for a while,” Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., was quoted as saying. But the agreement, he added, would lead to a “Senate that functions for the common good.”
These 14 senators are to be applauded for forging ahead with the notion that a solution could be reached, and that a stalemate wasn’t inevitable. Note that neither of Nevada’s senators, Harry Reid nor John Ensign, was among the 14.
The constituents to whom Graham refers (and there are upset people on the Democratic side, as well) are those who would turn a single issue into a showdown, who would have their way no matter the consequences.
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They seem to forget the Republican advantage in Congress and the White House will swing the other way someday. Perhaps the best course of action for democracy would have been to remove the filibuster entirely – doesn’t everything deserve an up or down vote when it gets to the Senate floor? – but that idea was never going to be on the table.
Extremists also seem to ignore the possibility judicial nominees aren’t one-dimensional characters, following a strict dogma and a party-line agenda scripted for them by the far right or far left. Judges are sworn to uphold the law and make the best decisions they can for the common good.
That’s the principle which should prevail.