Sen. Mitchell: US needs less partisanship, more compromise

Negative political partisanship has been severe at times in the history of the United States, but it is hitting new depths now and becoming much more damaging, former Sen. George Mitchell of Maine said April 4 at the FOSE conference.

The only ones who can stop the trend are American voters supporting candidates who avoid those tactics, he said. “It will be stopped by the American people when they decide they are sick of it and want to change it,” Mitchell said.

The key to improving the nation’s civic and political life is a willingness to compromise, said Mitchell, a Democrat who was the Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995. He recalled his own cordial relationship with Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), when Dole was the Senate minority leader.

“We not once had harsh words pass between us, in public or in private, and we never tried to embarrass or demonize each other,” Mitchell said. “We had loyalty to our parties but we recognized a higher loyalty to the country,” Mitchell said.

Politicians ought to recognize that in a very diverse country there will be many sincere opinions of the right thing to do, he said. “There has to be a willingness to compromise,” Mitchell added. “Disagreeing with each other is not un-American or criminal.”

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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