JOHN WEMLINGER: McCain spoke to America at his memorial service, but did we listen?

By JOHN WEMLINGER
Guest Columnist

Apparently John McCain planned every part of his memorial service, I think, because he had one last thing to say. But did America hear him? If he said, what I think he was saying, it is a message that both Republicans and Democrats, incumbents or newly elected, need to hear.

I honestly don’t know what will happen in the upcoming midterms, but I know they are important. Power hangs in the balance. But we’ve all heard the expression, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

My observation, unfortunately, over these past several decades is that the goal of both parties has been to gain absolute power in the House, in the Senate and in the White House. This pursuit of power has created the partisanship, the ceaseless bitter banter back and forth, the division in our government that has led to legislative gridlock.

Elected representatives sent to Washington seem to have forgotten that while it may have been Republican voters or Democratic voters that sent them to the halls of power, that they have a duty to every constituent in their district to represent everyone’s best interest. This duty often transcends party.

For example, they are obligated to represent those constituents that are ill, often with life-threatening conditions that are treatable, but ignored because treatment is not affordable. They are obligated to serve the needs of those in the lowest socioeconomic strata; the single parent, who works two, maybe even, three part-time jobs, and perhaps didn’t vote because they can’t get off work.

They must consider the views of even the most left-leaning or right-leaning young person because they are the future of this country. Immigration laws and gun rights are ripe for reform, but we see thousands coming in illegally, families being ripped apart and, sadly, every school has a plan for what to do in an active shooter situation and practices executing that plan.

Politics and government are not easy and when no one is willing to reach across the aisle and invite compromise because they will be shamed by their party, it only becomes that much more difficult. The Republican answer to problems that require legislative solutions are not the only right answers, neither are Democratic solutions. The best solution lies somewhere in between, but to get to that best solution, someone has to be willing to suggest compromise and someone else has to be willing to listen.

As I observed the political notables gathered at McCain’s memorial service, I hoped they saw and heard the message McCain was sending them.

Mitch McConnell, you don’t have all the answers. Neither do you Chuck Schumer. Nor do you Nancy Pelosi or Paul Ryan. McCain was urging the power brokers to seek compromise, find the middle ground, find the best solution to thorny problems that plague all of us at some point or another.

The midterms are important. Everyone should go and vote their mind, but your expectation should be that who you vote for should be willing to get things done in Washington, and I don’t see that happening until the “art” of compromise becomes the norm again in that town’s politics.

McCain’s last speech on the floor of the Senate said that. So did his memorial service. So, may I suggest that it would be appropriate to ask any political candidate the question, “How do you plan to seek compromise if elected?” And then hold them accountable to their answer.

John Wemlinger is a retired U.S. Army Colonel, an educator and an author. He can be contacted at jwemlinger46@gmail.com

 

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