I had the opportunity to be in Washington, D.C. with the National Newspaper Association at the same time that major events took place on the national front.
First, I stood in the hall and watched a line of people wait to enter the overflowing room where Congressman James Comer was chairing an inquiry into the potential impeachment of President Joe Biden.
That hearing canceled my appointment with Comer but I had the opportunity to meet with his staff, and I also met with a staff member of Congressman Brett Guthrie. The previous day I was able to meet with top officials of the Postal Regulatory Commission, which provides oversight of the U.S. Post- al Service.
When I’m in D.C., I become consumed by the news of the day. I normally read the Washington Post to keep up with national news, and I rarely watch television news (most of it is not news, it is opinion, but they don’t bother to tell people which is which.)
The top news was the looming government shutdown as Congress worked to get a stopgap bill passed. The minute-by-minute play was exciting to watch, and it was only delayed as the top story until the announcement of the death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Feinstein was a trailblazer for women in the political arena. She died at the age of 90 and was the longest serving female senator in history.
As I watched the news during breaks in my day, there were several things that I found of particular interest or of particular irritation.
First, it was obvious that all the female report- ers and news anchors on CNN loved Feinstein. While Fox News was criticizing other media for calling her a centrist Democrat, I think they missed the point.
One commentator on CNN said Republican “protected” Feinstein during her early years in office, not because they agreed with her politics, but because they respected her. She served for more than 30 years, and a lot of barriers were broken in those 30 years for women in leadership. I think it’s a good thing to know that Democrats and Republicans alike supported that. Feinstein was true to her convictions, but she was willing to work with people who did not agree with her.
Which brings me to my greatest irritant of the week .
As Congress passed a bill Saturday that keeps government open for 45 days, the topic quickly turned to the fate of Speaker Kevin McCarthy. He couldn’t get the Republican votes to prevent a shut-down, so he called on some Democrats to get the bill across the victory line.
There had already been threats by some Republicans that they would work harder than they already have at getting him ousted as Speaker of the House if he buddied up with the Democrats.
Apparently for some Republicans, it’s more important to toe the party line than it is to keep the government operating.
Sure, they should absolutely be able to pass the needed funding bills in plenty of time to prevent a shutdown, and they shouldn’t even be putting themselves in a position where a stopgap funding bill is needed. And I won’t even start on the border issue.
But the political divide between parties has become so wide that finding a compromise is considered a betrayal. That is not how America has succeeded in the past, and that is not how we will succeed in the future.
There are a lot of voters who want our leaders to continue the unyielding, uncooperative spirit that leads our nation, but there are plenty of voters who see that stand as the destruction of our democracy. I am one of those people. So, I was hopeful when the report came along that Robert F Kennedy, Jr. is planning an announcement this week and it is being speculated he will announce that he will run for president as an Independent candidate.
Kennedy can’t get any traction in the Democratic party, which appears to be aligned with President Biden. I think we all know a debate between Biden and Kennedy would probably not go well for the president, so his protectors plan to keep that from happening.
If Kennedy runs as an Independent, it will shake the Democratic party, and that’s a good thing. It needs shaken. So does the Republican party, and hopefully one of the viable candidates there will step out and do the same thing. Our two-party system has been crippled at the knees, and there are a lot of disenfranchised voters who want candidates that hear the voices in the center, people who want to stop the “shrinking of the middle.”
I commented during my visit that every American should travel to the nation’s capital at some time in their life. It’s a refresher course in our history and our values. It’s a reminder that everyone in America does not think the same nor look the same, and our laws must allow each of us to live in peace and be afforded the same opportunities, with liberty and justice for all.
By Sharon Burton