Former Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has an op-ed in today's Los Angeles Times about the "calamitous capacity for dysfunction" in the legislative branch of government. She's a firm believer in enacting laws "that genuinely improve the lives of" Americans, but sadly, the "corrosive political environment" is making that impossible.
Cooperation was once "the norm," but now, not so much; collaboration is fast becoming a thing of the past as Congress lurches from one crisis to another.
However, she ends her piece on a hopeful note, calling for a groundswell of grassroots support for bipartisanship. In the current hostile political environment, good luck with that. But who knows? We the People do have the power to create change, so there is a glimmer of hope:
Ultimately, we get the government we demand.
What is required is a political reward at the ballot box for those politicians who work toward common ground, and a penalty for those who do not. That's my message now. And to further it, I've established Olympia's List, a rallying point for those interested in identifying and supporting candidates who are willing to reach across the political aisle and follow the principles of consensus-building. And at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where I am a senior fellow, we are encouraging Americans to join a new effort called Citizens for Political Reform to demand bipartisanship.
There are already plenty of incentives for incendiary rhetoric and thwarting action. We can alter those incentives. What is necessary now is a counterweight to the extremism, a groundswell of recognition that there is strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building that will leave a legacy of responsible stewardship for the generations to come.