People have noticed longtime Republican members of Congress peeling off one-by-one in quiet defeat. The old Republican party is dying, and it is being replaced by Trumpism. Certainly, anyone who disagrees with POTUS, finds himself or herself the subject of a poison tweet. Among the last to leave is this remarkable man.
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has been called “a senator’s senator.” His dignified approach has been in building relationships and working with others to get common good sense to prevail. He has sought out opportunities for compromise ever since he entered the Senate in 2003, according to Vox. Yet in 2020, the Tennessee senator will be no more.
Since Trump took office, things have changed dramatically. Civility and compromise have gone by the wayside. The man third in line for the Republican leadership nonetheless felt okay about leaving.
He believed that the party leaders, instead of the policy people, have been setting the agenda. The old ways are dying away like the dinosaurs.
When it came to taxes, immigration, spending, and health care, it appeared that the leadership controlled what happens, instead of the Senators. Alexander said:
“In the Senate, too much has become centralized in the leadership. Part of that is a function of the media and the world you live in because you have to respond four, five times a day, unlike 50 years ago. Fifty-two Republican senators can’t do that as a unit, so to be effective in your political activity, you need a highly centralized leader. That does tend to diminish the influence of the committees, and that’s not healthy for the Senate.’
The social media and a 24-hour news cycles has been remaking politics in part, and the senator from Tennessee understands how that worked. He had been trying to find a middle ground on the most important issues of the past decade, when he realized:
‘It’s wandering in a lot of gunfire is what it is.’
Yet, he still clung to the older ways:
‘You can lead just as much and sometimes more not being a part of the elected leadership. I mean, there are three office buildings here, and two of them are named for people who are not part of the elected leadership, Hart and Russell. They never were elected to anything. But they were real leaders in the Senate.’
Reflecting upon his life in politics, Alexander said:
‘I have gotten up every day thinking that I could help make our state and country a little better, and gone to bed most nights thinking that I have.’
Last year, an Alexander aide said:
‘For eight years and four elections, all we were doing was screaming at each in inchoate rage. To have this first small shoot of green grass in the nuclear fallout area is pretty remarkable. His view is, “I’m here, I’m going to make a difference.”‘
Alexander made a good comparison of how the Congress needed to work. Unfortunately, neither the House or the Senate works well any longer:
‘I was thinking of the image of two drivers of an old wagon heading west sitting in the front seat with the horses out there. If all they do is argue, they never start moving. If they can agree on something, they start heading somewhere.’
Former New Hampshire senator and political friend of Alexander, Judd Gregg said:
‘We are functioning in a time of populist extremism, which is inherently nihilistic. Lamar is the opposite. He is a governing person. He’s in a difficult position.’
Mitch McConnell rubbed Alexander the wrong way. The senator said:
‘I left the leadership because, with all respect, I felt leadership in a legislative body is more like making sure you’re at the head of a parade that’s already formed. You can’t get too far out in front. Or you’re like John Boehner. You’re just a guy in the woods taking a walk by himself.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.