Childish disagreements, stall tactics must end

FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

We teach our kids in preschool to cooperate with one another.

All through middle and high school sports, we teach our student-athletes about the importance of teamwork.

Successful private businesses — like Google or Disney, for instance — hammer the premise of working together toward a common goal.

So why is this concept lost when our elected leaders show up inside the Capital Beltway?

Last week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, expressed his frustration that even his own party couldn’t come together to gather enough votes to approve a replacement for Obamacare.

Ryan told a reporter from CNN that he worries if the GOP can’t find a resolution, then President Donald Trump will “just go work with the Democrats.

“If this Republican Congress allows the perfect to become the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the president to working with Democrats. He’s been suggesting that much.”

Horrors!

Isn’t the goal of our legislature supposed to be about serving America as a whole, not just taking sides along party lines?

Even Trump has suggested that the Republicans need to reach across the aisle to get things accomplished. Earlier in the week White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the president is “absolutely” willing to work with Democrats to find a way forward on the health care issue.

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas last week wrote about former U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, originally from Dayton, who had represented Ohio’s 3rd District for more than 20 years. The Democrat left Congress in 2002 to take over as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture. He was appointed by President George W. Bush.

Now that may come as a surprise, given that Bush is a Republican, but apparently it is possible after all for ideas, agreement and appointments to cross party lines.

In that Thomas column we published on Saturday’s opinion page, Hall lamented how corrosive contemporary politics has become and attributed it largely to the fact that members of Congress today don’t bond and build relationships anymore — particularly across party lines.

“Over a period of time, you begin to trust one another and when you trust one another you find you do have common ground,” Hall said.

Apparently that’s not even a consideration these days.

Consider the potential confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Democrats now are plotting how to foil Gorsuch’s appointment. The latest plan is a possible filibuster. Media reports have indicated that Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is undecided on whether he’d back such a move.

Gorsuch needs a simple majority of 51 votes to be confirmed by the Senate next week. But before senators can vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation, they must vote to officially end debate. That takes passage by 60 votes. A filibuster would occur if lawmakers refuse to end debate. A “no” vote from 41 of the 48 Democrats and independents would trigger a filibuster on the confirmation vote.

Gorsuch, a highly respected federal appeals court judge, is very conservative, as one would expect in a nominee from a Republican president. Since Gorsuch would replace staunch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last year unexpectedly, it’s actually the next vacancy that really would tip the balance of the high court.

I’m not sure how Democrats hope to win this. If they successfully block the appointment, four more years exist in Trump’s term for him to find an equally (or more) conservative nominee. And then what happens if another more liberal justice dies or retires?

What does anyone gain by stalling?

Over and over we, as Americans, are witnessing childish partisan games among our elected leaders that include useless stall tactics and, well, temper tantrums by those folks we believed were worthy of our votes.

We all must demand they stop this silliness and do the job they were elected to do, including learning to work together like grownups.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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