The other day, Bart shared with me the following piece from The New York Times. Before I provide an excerpt, I’ll share what Bart had to say first:
I am copying and pasting an article in the NYT about Jim Cooper, a Blue Dog Democrat considered to be the last true moderate in the House. A very good read. FYI – linking to articles is not one of my strong points.
Personally, I think he has identified the turning point of politics in my lifetime and how things have devolved since Newt Gingrich, a man I have never liked for one second, was elected to congress. Gingrich tries to come across as an intellectual but in my estimation, he is a man possessing a high I.Q. but without the ability to put it to proper use for the good of everyone, not just his own personal ambitions.
The article is a refreshing walk down memory lane when one considers the tone of things out there today. There was a time when politics was populated with men and women who had a certain sense of duty to all citizens, not just party loyalty.
My response to Bart was to say:
I don’t know whether Cooper is the LAST, but there are precious few — in office. We’re not so rare out in the population.
Which is true. Unfortunately, our vaunted two-party system increasingly guarantees that moderates will not make it to Congress. No one has a chance in the fall without the backing of one party or the other. And the nominating process weeds out reasonable people, most of the time. Sort of makes me want to try running myself sometime, just to see how hard it would be. My prediction: Hard as getting a Republican to say something nice about Barack Obama. Or a Democrat about W.
Here’s the excerpt:
The Last Moderate
Jim Cooper, a Blue Dog Democrat who represents the Nashville area, was first elected to Congress in 1982. He was 28, and if it’s not quite right to say he’s been there ever since — he spent eight years in the private sector after losing the race for Al Gore’s Senate seat — he’s still been a congressman most of his adult life.
You’d think that Cooper’s tenure would ensure him the privileges of seniority. It doesn’t. Considering that he’s a mild-mannered man, you’d think he’d have friends on both sides of the aisle. Not so. He’s loathed by Republicans for being in the wrong party, and scorned by Democrats for his fiscal conservatism. At the least, you’d think that he’d be respected for his institutional memory. Wrong again.
The reason is that Cooper is the House’s conscience, a lonely voice for civility in this ugly era. He remembers when compromise was not a dirty word and politicians put country ahead of party. And he’s not afraid to talk about it. “We’ve gone from Brigadoon to Lord of the Flies,” he likes to say….