We must not become the 'Party of No'
As a member of the Democratic Party, I firmly believe that we must not become the Party of No. I absolutely want our party to be successful and grow, but what I don’t want, nor do our constituents want and what they don’t deserve is continued partisan bickering, gridlock and political rancor. The time to get things done is now.
Whether we are serving at the local, state or national level, we represent constituents who want and deserve results. They want their government to work to improve their lives, as well as that of their family, friends, and future generations.
While we must not compromise on our core values, we need to find common ground on the many issues and challenges before us and those who will present themselves in the future. We must have a willingness to get beyond petty partisanship, making our case using facts, data and evidence. When all parties come to the table with a willingness to hear, listen and act, based on facts, data and evidence, objective results will manifest themselves and should benefit us all. We must not say no just because we can, or because the opposition party may benefit from the action, or because that’s how the opposition has previously treated us. The Democratic Party should say no when our core values are coming under attack or being violated or compromised, and only then. The American people deserve better.
The political rancor in Washington is adding value to no one other that those wishing to further maintain and expand the political divide as well as their own self-interests.
I am sure many cannot forget the comments of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the outset of President Obama’s presidency in 2009, “Our No. 1 priority is to make this president a one-term president.” Put in other words, he was seeking to ensure the president and the country were not successful. This was unfair, unjust, reprehensible, unconscionable and irresponsible. Today, as then, the American people are still expecting Congress to do their job on their behalf and get things done.
We as Democrats must work to build coalitions with our colleagues from across the aisles, Republicans and independents alike. One such recent example of note is the extremely controversial Senate confirmation vote of Betsy DeVos for the Secretary of Education. Clearly, both Senators Susan Collins (R - ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R AK) voted with the 46 Democrats, as did Senators Angus King (I ME) and Bernie Sanders (I - VT). While this is only one such example, it provides hope and a basis upon which we can build future coalitions.
There are several areas where I believe Congress should be and needs to be able to find common ground. These areas include health care, transportation infrastructure and national defense. From a health care perspective, many thousands of Rhode Islanders have benefited from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While many have chanted Repeal and Replace, even Scott Walker (R), Governor of Wisconsin and chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is cautioning about going too far. With respect to transportation infrastructure, we in Rhode Island have made great strides over the last several years to address our aging and failing roads, culminating in the recently enacted, 10-year infrastructure plan, RhodeWorks. And, it is critically we maintain a strong and modern national defense, something important to all Americans including us in RI, with our strong defense economy.
We need to find common ground on the multiple of challenges before us and those which will present themselves in the future. We are tired of the lack of progress and the inability to collaborate. I believe that if we are unable to bridge the political divide and produce real, tangible results for America, posthaste, it may be time to consider term limits at the Congressional level, as well as serious campaign finance reform. Some may find that heretical, but term limits may be the only way to change the culture. We’ll all be watching. Louis P. DiPalma is the Democratic state senator representing District 12 (Little Compton, Middletown, Newport and Tiverton)