(Dec. 9) n U.S. Sen. Bob Dole’s final public message before he died on Dec. 5, he provided a lesson in civics that too few in today’s politics are willing to abide.

In a column for USA Today that he finished writing (in longhand) on Nov. 23, Dole emphasized the importance of principled compromise. Principled compromise was a virtue respected and practiced by the nation’s founders, yet even many of today’s conservatives who say they revere the founders nonetheless treat compromise with contempt.

This is foolish. From James Madison through Ronald Reagan, principled compromise always has been a tool toward constructive victories, not a sign of surrender. Yet today, many members of Congress barely even speak to members from the other party, much less try to hammer out productive agreements with them.

This isn’t just polarization; it’s malignant obstinacy.

Senator Bob Dole, Republican-Kansas, General (GEN) John W. Vessey Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Italian dignitaries attend a ceremony commemorating the liberation of Rome by the 1st Special Service Force during World War II.

“Teamwork is needed in Washington now more than ever,” wrote Dole. “During my years in Congress , Democrats and Republicans were political combatants, but we were also friends. I learned that it is difficult to get anything done unless you can compromise — not your principles but your willingness to see the other side. Those who suggest that compromise is a sign of weakness misunderstand the fundamental strength of our democracy.”

And: “proud partisans [should] validate American democracy by proving we need not agree on everything to agree on some … Our history is rich with political debate and deep divisions, but collectively we share a common purpose for a better America. We cannot let political differences stand in the way of that common good.”

This was the final message of a wise and good man, a great public servant, one who knew he was dying and wanted to make one last plea to his countrymen….

[For the rest of this column, please do follow this link.]


Tags: , ,