In a surprising show of defiance from a senior Republican, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sent a sharp warning to President Donald Trump by means of a Thursday night op-ed in the Washington Post, reminding him that Congress is not simply a collection of dutiful patsies who will go along with his every whim.
Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.
That’s not how we were meant to govern. Our entire system of government — with its checks and balances, its bicameral Congress, its protections of the rights of the minority — was designed for compromise. It seldom works smoothly or speedily. It was never expected to.
It requires pragmatic problem-solving from even the most passionate partisans. It relies on compromise between opposing sides to protect the interests we share. We can fight like hell for our ideas to prevail. But we have to respect each other or at least respect the fact that we need each other.
That has never been truer than today, when Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.
We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation.
While all this Sorkinesque lionizing of the ideals of democracy and compromise is all very well and good, one would have to ask if Senator McCain has been in a medically induced coma for the past eight years, because his own party has embraced partisanship like a radical ideology, eagerly discarding any concern for “compromise” in their aggressive pursuit of their extremist agenda.
Where was all this talk of “compromise” when McCain helped his party hold a Supreme Court seat empty for over a year just so the sitting President couldn’t fill it? Or shutting down the government over the imaginary “debt ceiling crisis” and then voting to raise it by $10 trillion when the White House changes hands? Or any of the other countless times they obstructed the agenda of President Obama because – let’s face it – he was black?
The Republican Party may not answer to the President, but they certainly don’t answer to the American people either. They have unashamedly sold out the people they ostensibly represent in order to serve the plutocrat class, demonstrating a willingness to strip away the health care coverage of millions of people just to protect the profits of insurance companies.
So unless John McCain is willing to renounce his dark money campaign donations and stop voting in lockstep with his party, he can save his empty words for someone who hasn’t seen him say these things and then immediately do the complete opposite thing time and time again.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.