(Editor’s Note: The commentary below came as an email from Bob Harris. I thought it was powerful and should be shared. Mr. Harris grew up in Charleston where his father was editor of The Charleston Gazette and later Chief of Staff to Senator Jennings Randolph. Bob Harris is based in Washington with extensive knowledge of government and politics. He is principal in the firm of Hutter & Harris.)
Thanks for your thoughtful comments in your Final Look.
It is a very bleak look. We are one day away from an election, but does anyone really know what this election is about. Most elections are about the future, this election cannot be — I hope!! If that is the case, the future is not bright at all!!
My mentors in politics and government were my father and Senator Randolph. They taught me when it was time to be partisan and when it was time to roll up your sleeves and go to work. I so often recall — fondly — the Senator taking me aside when I was a page and giving my first real lesson in bi-partisanship. I recall him taking me to a desk off the center aisle of the Senate Chamber and telling me that that aisle divided political parties, not people — people crossed that line every day when it was necessary for the betterment of the country and their states.
Today, bi-partisanship is demonstrated only by Members sitting together at a State of Union address. In between, Senators and House Members line up to campaign against their colleagues, to cut ads in another Members state, to host fundraisers for the opponent of another Member and more!! Then, they come back to Washington and talk about working together, which cannot because they cannot trust each other…
Trust has gone…
And, so has the American people’s trust in their government.
Why, you ask? Because it is pounded into our heads each day by the rancor of on-line reports (many, many, many unsubstantiated or ever false), by misleading press reports (both liberal and conservative) and by name-calling all over the internet, radio and television.
Today, we have the networks (Fox on one side, MSNBC on the other and all those somewhere in between) setting up the narrative of the election. But, more importantly, the day-to-day inner workings of the government. We see news on Fox we do not see on another network, we see news on MSNBC we see on no other network. Worst of all, it comes from those reports from the rotunda of the Cannon or Russell Buildings as Members throw themselves in front of the all day parade of cable tv shows to complain about someone else, never talking about what is good about American or how we can make America a better place. America is falling apart and it is always someone else’s fault.
I was in West Virginia this past weekend for the football game, the ads are everywhere. When I left, I thought Barack Obama was the President of a country other than the one in which I live. He is responsible for everything, even for stripping our rights!!
I am now back at my desk, awaiting the election tomorrow. And, after that I will be here, watching the lamest of Lame Ducks. Shortly after the New Year a new Congress will begin; the House and Senate will organize and we will be begin the 2016 election cycle.
Members will call each other names, accuse members of the “other party” of being anything but American, and block legislation sponsored by anyone from that other party. They will do all that in the span of a 3 day work week and in between we will watch Members line-up to sponsor fundraisers and campaign against the colleagues!!