I remember the commonly accepted phrase, “All politics is local.” The obvious understanding is that the individual politician and his/her constituents are best served when the interests of the “local” constituents, not partisan interests, are paramount in policy decisions.
Then, it was not uncommon for votes in the U.S. Senate and House to cross party lines as well as the development of deep and abiding cross-party friendships which are unthinkable today. Those who speak of those days frequently refer to the friendship between late Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). Although in opposition on many issues, they were known as best friends, dedicated to achieving policies that benefitted the majority of Americans.
Their friendship notwithstanding, from the time they joined the Senate until their final appearances there, an erosion of collegiality and willingness to separate partisan politics from the interests of Americans occurred. Whatever the source or reason you choose, it has crippled the ability of legislators to achieve their greatest constitutional mandate to “create a more perfect union.” Rather than seeing their political opponents as differing in opinion, they now view them as enemies whose ideas and interests have to be crushed into the dirt of political preference — nationwide. Sadly, those who vote for them accept the same enmity.
Until there is a willingness to revert to the attitude of “doing what is best for all or most citizens,” we will be mired in a swamp of conflict and discontent. This we see in the current COVID-19 economy. While a select number and class of Americans prosper and billionaires increase their wealth exponentially, larger numbers of Americans face imminent eviction, food insecurity and a myriad of problems associated with looming or absolute poverty. Small business owners who have spent their years, effort, and meager wealth to serve their communities are witnessing their efforts evaporate.
For eight months, our Republican-led Senate refused negotiations or acting on a relief package for the average American. Proposals offered by the House of Representatives have been gathering dust on the desk of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He has single-handedly held the majority of Americans dangling on a string of economic insecurity. In the eleventh hour, he and his Republican caucus have agreed to negotiate a miserly relief package that will not meet the real needs of those who have suffered since May. As the Grim Reaper to Democratic policies, his singular interest has been in shaping the federal court system with conservative — and, in many cases, unqualified — judges who will legislate conservative causes from the bench.
All is not lost! As has been done in our short national history, citizens can act in concert to achieve legislation that does not extend the hand of preference to the wealthy or industrial class. Our challenge is to abandon the belief that our only concern is what is happening in our own city, county or state.
As most voters know, the state of Georgia has two unresolved Senate races that have scheduled runoff elections. The result of these elections will determine control of the Senate. Because the election outcomes have a broader impact on the nation, we MUST broaden our view of how we can affect the outcome.
If we are Georgia residents who are registered to vote, we must evaluate the candidates who best represent our interests and the interests of those we value. We must then VOTE! It’s that simple!
If we are not Georgia residents, we cannot vote, but we can encourage the Georgians we know to get out the vote and we can contribute! Political campaigns run on money. Presently, for many, money is scarce, but we must consider the chaos another McConnell term as Senate leader will cause!
Williams is national president of the National Congress of Black Women and host of “Wake Up and Stay Woke” on WPFW-FM (89.3).