The Forgotten Concept of Statesmanship

|| by Will Galloway ||

Columbia – Henry Clay. John Calhoun. Daniel Webster. Robert Taft. Robert La Follette. Sam Houston. Charles Sumner. These men, among others, are some of the greatest Statesmen in the history of the United States Senate. During their service in the worlds greatest deliberative body, they were not perfect, but they all men of conviction and unwavering devotion to the United States.

Unfortunately, there are very few in Washington today who follow in their footsteps. Today’s Senate has been reduced to partisan tribalism and pettiness, and nothing illustrates this better than the confirmation fight over Neil Gorsuch and the attempt to repeal Obamacare.

The United States Supreme Court should not be a partisan institution. Certainly there will be liberal justices and conservative justices, but that is not what the confirmation process is about. Rather than discuss his impressive pedigree and education, as well as his remarkable understanding of the Constitution, the Senate debate focused on his partisan leanings. Republicans pitched him as a savior to the court who would defend the right to life, the second amendment, and fight government overreach. Democrats attacked him as a radical right wing bogeyman who would be a shill for corporate interests. The Senate asked Gorsuch, in effect, to rule on cases before he was confirmed.

During the Obamacare repeal, the Senate has routinely devolved into attacking its members and has failed to negotiate. Henry Clay, “The Great Compromiser,” would be appalled at the conduct of his modern day colleagues. Rather than address a dire problem confronting millions of Americans, the Senate has chosen to rush into vote after vote and has failed to create the sort of deliberative solution that was once the defining characteristic of the body.

There was once a time where our Senators would sacrifice their own careers for the greater good of the country. Sam Houston opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act because he believed it would tear the country apart. Robert Taft spoke out about the Nuremberg Trials and cost himself the Republican Nomination. Precious few in the Senate today appear willing to sacrifice their own political futures for the greatest country in the world, and that is very disappointing. It is time for the Senate to return to the model of Statesmanship laid forth by the Giants of the Senate.

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