Daily Archives: January 6, 2010

South Carolina Republicans Censure Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Is it Wrong to Compromise? By Gregory Hilton

South Carolina Republicans have once again voted to censure their senior Senator. Charleston County Republicans voted to censure Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in November and today the same action was taken by the Lexington County GOP. Graham’s voting record has always been conservative. He is the leading proponent of the Patriot Act and has been in the forefront of the effort to challenge the new health care bill on constitutional grounds. The Senator has also crossed the aisle in search of compromises on a few high profile issues.
The GOP county meetings were angry at Senator Graham’s support of the October 2008 bank bailout legislation, as well as his backing of an immigration reform compromise. Both proposals were supported by former President George W. Bush.
The most vocal complaints were due to Graham’s work with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) on global warming, but the focal point for the South Carolinia lawmaker was promoting the construction of 100 new nuclear power plants. In a similar effort the Republican website Red State is actively supporting the primary opponent of conservative Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) because he was seeking a health care compromise.
An organization to “Impeach Joseph Cao” has also been formed. Rep. Cao (R-LA) was the only GOP lawmaker to vote for health care reform in the House. The organizers of the group want to remove Cao from his 65% Democratic district where he would obviously be replaced by a liberal Democrat. This outlook is not confined to the GOP. In 2006, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) nearly lost his seat because of his support for President Bush’s policies in Iraq.
With their huge majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have not expressed a sincere interest in bipartisan compromise, but the legislative outlook is expected to change after the November elections. It is doubtful Republicans will capture control of either the House or Senate, but their ranks will increase. We have just begun the 2010 election year and my guess is that we will not see much compromise in the current highly partisan atmosphere.
My concern is what will happen next year. I believe Republicans would be wise to listen to the man who served as their Speaker of the House for 10 years. Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) says “We each have a responsibility to be passionate about our beliefs. That is healthy government. But we also have a responsibility to be civil, to be open-minded, and to be fair, to listen to one another, to work in good faith to find solutions to the challenges facing this nation.”
Another wise lawmaker is the late Rep. Sam Rayburn (D-TX) who served as House Speaker for 16 years. Rayburn addressed House Democrats in January of 1953 when Dwight Eisenhower was about to become President and said: “He’s an American hero elected in a democratic election and treading on new fields. He’ll need help. Remember that we are Americans first and Democrats second. We should be constructive in our criticism. Any jackass can kick over a barn door, but it takes a carpenter to build one.”
The U.S. Congress is far more polarized than the electorate and compromise has been difficult in recent years. It has been difficult to achieve a productive work environment and far too many lawmakers define success by the failure of the other side. The goal is often obtaining a headline which will be embarrassing to the other side.
The big procedural question for the GOP in January of 2011 will be selecting a proper legislative course. They will have to decide if they want to promote legislation which advances partisan goals or solves problems. My hope is that our lawmakers will focus on solving problems.