'Sorry state of affairs' Concerns Former Congressmen; They Seek Civility, Respect
From www.politico.com ~ Some former members of Congress have this to say to this season’s crop of congressional candidates: “We have met the enemy. And it is us.”
In an unprecedented letter to all congressional candidates in both parties, more than 130 former members of Congress said it’s time to halt “this sorry state of affairs” and start to “focus on problem solving.”
Congress “appears gripped by zero-sum game partisanship,” in which the goal often seems to be more to devastate the other side ... than to find common ground to solve problems,” they wrote.
It is a pointed message from experts who know the territory and want everybody to get along better. They urge current members to show “decency and respect toward opponents,” to engage in truthfulness and good-faith debate and to end personal attacks — in both campaigns and their legislative work.
The cry of “enough” was organized by the new group Former Members of Congress for Common Ground, led by former Reps. John Porter (R-Ill.) and David Skaggs (D-Colo.).
Each served on the House Appropriations Committee and was known for his bipartisan approach. And each remains professionally active on Capitol Hill as a lawyer with a large firm.
The letter resulted from more than three months of discussions among the former members who signed the letter.
The public is “hugely perplexed and dismayed” about the problems facing the nation, Skaggs said.
And he hopes the initiative will be a catalyst for current and would-be lawmakers to know and respect one another.
“People are fed up,” including members of Congress, at a time when the nation faces huge challenges and needs more consensus building, added Skaggs, who recently has gained attention as chairman of the Office of Congressional Ethics. The two activities are not related.
“We can’t continue the way we have gone in the past. People want to cut the childish political posturing,” Porter said. “With the problems facing the country, our campaigns have become an embarrassment to democracy.”
Those problems have resulted, in part, he said, from a political nominating process that favors more extreme views and from political consultants “who encourage negative campaigns because it, unfortunately, works.”
The former members also cited larger cultural factors. “Members who far exceed the bounds of normal and respectful discourse,” they said in their letter, “are not viewed with shame but are lionized, treated as celebrities, rewarded with cable television appearances and enlisted as magnets for campaign fundraisers.”
Read more at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1010/43063.html#ixzz11THMHpFO.