REFLECTIONS

Posted on June 4, 2013

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CENTRIST POLITICIANS ARE EXTINCT

My two political heroes are a guy named Dan Evans, named “Straight Arrow,” and Ike Skelton.

Dan and Ike are the kind of public servants Americans desperately need today. Each were principled pragmatists who believed the duty of a politician was no to make speeches about the evils of government but to make government work effectively for the people. They were not forever running for reelection.

Dan and Ike collaborated with centrists in both parties to pass legislation that boosted the economy, improved education, protected the environment and strengthened our military.      Rather than kowtow to extremists, three term Gov. Evans famously drove John Birch Society activists out of his state’s Republican Party.

Very popular in Washington state, Evans was appointed to an open Senate seat and easily won a special election to complete Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson’s term after he dies in 1983. But Evans, even though he could have won another term in the Senate, chose not to run.

Congress was handicapped by too much political posturing and debilitating partisanship he said, and he had better things to do with his life and career. That was in the late 1980s. Congressman Skelton, Democrat, Mo., was defeated by a tea party candidate in 2010.

Partisanship has devolved to bitter acrimony. There is more grandstanding, more than ever, but very little coming together on common ground for the common good. The sort of right-wing kooks who were roaming at the fringe of the GOP during Evan’s years as governor are now driving the party agenda.

Many of them are actually duly elected members of the House and Senate. Their rigid ideology is a hue roadblock to getting anything done at a time when so much needs to be done.

Evans and Skelton were the last distinguished breed that has been driven to political extinction: Progressive Republicans and Democrats able to work together for the job of conducting the people’s business.

These two great men hold their own important place in American politics, and we are a lesser nation without the benefit of their sane counsel.

 

 

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