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March 6, 2015

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Making a ‘more perfect union’

Getting back to work.

I was saddened to hear that Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine was retiring from the United States Senate.

I was saddened not because it wasn’t time — she has given long, dedicated and responsible public service to this country. It was not because she was a Republican — actually, her leaving means the seat could go Democrat and help keep Nevada Sen. Harry Reid where he can really help our state, in the majority leader’s chair. And it was not because she was a woman, a group far under-represented in the Senate.

No, I was saddened because Sen. Snowe may be the last casualty of the polarization of American politics. Her leaving puts an exclamation point on the inability of Republicans and Democrats to work together for the good of the country. That is a reason all of us should be unhappy and very concerned today. For whatever and however we choose to describe what has happened in our political world, the loss of civility and making “compromise” a dirty word decreases the chances of fixing our problems at a time when our challenges are far too great to be left to those who choose to dither about.

If there is one recurring theme we have all heard — whether from the Tea Party or from within either major party — it is that Washington has failed us and we should, therefore, throw all the bums out. That, by the way, is not an unusual refrain from the body politic. We hear it every four years or so. What is different this time is that it is being heard across the political spectrum. Everybody wants change, and everybody wants it for very different reasons.

It is at times like these that I turn to the smartest person in the room. By that I mean, contrary to the bumper sticker and 30-second sound-bite mentality that suffice to fill most Americans’ attention spans, I find it helpful to seek intelligent, fact-based counsel.

It just so happens I know a fellow who fits the bill.

Former President Bill Clinton has written a new book called “Back To Work.” It is a must-read for every American, especially those who claim to know everything about the whys and wherefores about how we got into the mess we are in and how, of course, we need to get ourselves out.

President Clinton is no stranger to Las Vegas. He spent a good deal of time here during his eight years as president and a great deal more time since he left office, giving speeches, sharing ideas and, mostly, inspiring Americans to do better and be better than they thought possible. As popular as he was as president, he is even more so now, even among those who didn’t vote for him.

In short, he is one of the few people in and out of government who inspires the E.F. Hutton effect: When Bill Clinton speaks, people listen. I would even go so far as to predict that if he were able to run for president again, he would be elected by large majorities in both parties. That’s because people remember that when he was president, our financial house was in order, our future looked good and, most importantly, the prospects for the next generation looked even better.

Every page of his new book should be read by any American who believes, as I do, that America can be great, should be great and must be great, but who also fears that the polarization of this country is not the way to go about getting us there.

There is one portion of the book I would like to quote here because it sets the tone for the questions we all must ask ourselves when trying to figure out not only how we must vote and for what we must vote, but also how we must conduct ourselves as stewards of this great democracy:

“Our nation was founded by citizens determined to resist — then break away from — an empire ruled by a government unaccountable to them. Our Constitution, with its separation of powers and Bill of Rights, is designed to preserve liberty and protect us from abuse of government power.

“However, contrary to the current antigovernment movement’s claim to represent the intent of the framers, our founding fathers clearly intended to give us a government both limited and accountable enough to protect our liberties and strong and flexible enough to adapt to the challenges of each new era.

“They tried to give us the ability to keep America moving toward a ‘more perfect union,’ the eternal mission to which they pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor.

“In other words, our Constitution was designed by people who were idealists but not ideological. There is a big difference. You can have a philosophy that tends to be liberal or conservative but still open to evidence, experience and argument. That enables people with honest differences to find practical, principled compromise. On the other hand, fervent insistence on an ideology makes evidence, experience and argument irrelevant: If you possess the absolute truth, those who disagree are by definition wrong and evidence or failure is irrelevant. There is nothing to learn from the experience of other countries. Respectful arguments are a waste of time. Compromise is weakness. And if your policies fail, you don’t abandon them; instead, you double down, asserting that they would have worked if only they had been carried to their logical extreme.”

Of course, there is so much more wisdom in President Clinton’s book, but this little bit should make it clear why Sen. Snowe called it quits. She is the kind of citizen who believed she could make a difference, and for a long time she did. It mattered not how she labeled herself politically or how others labeled her; she was an American working with her colleagues toward a “more perfect union.”

In the end, though, at least for today, it appears her country does not want to pursue that dream of our Founding Fathers. Instead, we are happy just to fight among ourselves about the little things while we let the big things consume us. Instead of working toward perfection, we are running from it.

That is not what the patriots of this nation laid down their lives for more than 200 years ago. That is not what President Clinton writes is the way toward a stronger, more secure, more free America. And that is not the direction Sen. Olympia Snowe worked her entire adult life to pursue.

And, so, she quit. Shame on us!

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  1. I hear most if not all liberals talk about the enemy but they don't mention Muslim Extremist but Republicans!
    Twelve years ago when the voting was going against her the MSM was all aglow over MS. Snowe being defeated--she won but the vote was close and it did appear that she had gone down to defeat. No one in the MSM cared much that she was a moderate only about the R behind her name.
    But enough of those FACTS.

    How about the failed policies of NOboma: Talk about doubling down--another 2 trillion in stimulus??!?!?! The last one was such a great success--BHO a legend in his own mind!

    How about regulation after regulation needed to 'fix' the regulation that was suppose to fix the regulation that was put in place because someone thought that they could make things 'more perfect' IF only they could FORCE their idea of what was right on everyone else. HOW COULD ANYONE BE UPSET WITH MAKING THINGS BETTER/FAIR? But 'fair' by whose or what standards? Is it fair that someone is faster? better looking? or smarter?
    Should the govt step in. I believe that there was a story about women who had to wear 'ugly masks' as news reporters so as not to make ugly women feel bad. I think MY vision is THE ONE! LOL

    The reason we got here was people thinking that we ALL had to fit into the same mold. People have to do what WE (they?) think is best. Afterall, studies show that if you hire(fill in the blamk) type of worker they work harder! And since YOU are not smart enough to know that we need a law to make you--marching towards perfection.

    The part that you who march to perfection forget is that they wanted a 'to form a more perfect union' by 'PRIOVIDING for the common defense' and 'PROMOTING the general welfare' and 'SECURING the Blessings of LIBERTY'!!!! Strange every time you make up a law that forces me to do that which you think will make us all closer to 'perfection' you move us further from the 'blessings of liberty'!
    Abe Lincoln said that there were TWO competing philosophies in the world and each saw the other as the source of all evil. One wanted to allow men to breathe free and the other wanted to dictate to men the best way to live. How does one compromise with evil??
    He also said that "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
    "Don't interfere with anything in the Consitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safegaurd of our liberties."!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How much of your freedom are YOU willing to give up for the comforts of a warm fire and a good book and a quiet life??
    I always think of that great 'compromiser' of the past--Patrick Henry--'Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be bought with the price of chains and slavery?' I guess it is for some. For others I say: Better a free man with a headache than a slave with all the healthcare that Obamacare will 'allow' me!!!

  2. One final comment: Obama by his actions and speech claims the power to make everyone do by order what he feels is best for the health care of the country. He can bind us in any and every case because he talks of going around Congress and not enforcing those parts of laws which, though he signed, he disagrees.

    The power to 'bind us in all cases whatsoever and if being bound in that manner is not slavery, then there is not such a thing as slavery upon this earth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to GOD.' Thomas Paine.

  3. Mr. Sun,

    I am not quite sure what it is you were trying to convey, but I do know citing Senator Snowe and Former President Clinton in an editorial entitled "Making a More Perfect Union" is irrational and illogical.

    Neither of those two persons have lifted one-finger to produce anything of value that didn't satisfy their personal objectives. Moreover, neither could ever be confused as statesmen.

    Very strange waste of electrons you have concocted, Mr. Sun.


  4. We cannot ever fix anything in this country because as a nation, we have become a body of extremes. There is no problem that we don't divide up over, and call the other side names. Whether it's the economy, abortion, civil rights, welfare, or foreign policy, the idea of cooperation, compromise, and common sense is non-existant in America. There are almost no issues that can be solved by lunatics on the right or the left. We CAN apply decency and sensibility to all problems. Take welfare for example. We can help people in emergencies for short time, say 6 month to 2 years. We should not be sending out checks every month, generation after generation. Since most of us are very stubborn, arrogant, and selfish, I don't ever see this type of thinking ever happening. Very sad for our children and grandchildren.

  5. After we re-elect President Obama, as I hope we do by a historic land-slide, then we can do the right thing - the BIG THING!

    Out-law the Republican Party and begin a comprehensive investigation and indict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice, Roze and everyone found responsible for lying America into the Unjust War in Iraq for WAR CRIMES!

    I know that sounds extreme, but I'd suggest we take a look at what the German people did after WWII - SERIOUSLY!

    I think Olympia Snowe (and a lot of other moderate Republicans) might just quietly agree?