January 24, 2019 10:16 PM
Some days, I wish there were 100 Johnny Isaksons in the Senate. Today is one of those days.
800,000 Americans, including 71,000 Georgians, are in the middle of a tug-of-war of wills. Make no mistake, the President caused this shutdown back in December when his party still controlled all three branches of government. You can “but Chuck, but Nancy!” all you want to, but Trump said on camera to the American people he’d be proud to shut down the government for months – years – and he wouldn’t blame anyone else for it. Well, that lasted four seconds, and the predictable audience fell for his antics. It’s why they say, “but Chuck, but Nancy!” now, directing their ire solely at them, confounding all logic and reason.
Schumer and Pelosi do need to figure out a way to look a little less like cats who ate the canaries during press conferences, to be sure. Real people hang in the balance, and that is never a cause for smirks. But I can’t blame them for not giving an inch on the wall*. Not only do their constituents not want it, most Americans don’t, either. It was a big factor in Democrats winning the majority in the House of Representatives last November. Further, 71% of Americans don’t want the government shuttered as a bargaining chip.
But yet, Trump has done this, and our government workers’ plight does not seem to matter to him. The House is going to continue passing bills to fund the government without wall money attached. It’s what the newly elected Democrats were sent there to do. They are doing their jobs.
The president was elected by a group in 2016 who didn’t care if he had “unconventional methods;” they just wanted him to “get stuff done.” The wall* was one of those things. In that regard, he is doing his job as well.
This leaves the Senate.
Ah, the Senate… that revered body where the six year terms are meant to put the breaks on the members’ succumbing to populist will, thereby allowing them to put The Country and her people first. In James Madison and Alexander Hamilton’s own words:
“The necessity of the Senate is not less indicated by the propensity of all single and numerous assemblies to yield to the impulse of sudden and violent passions, and to be seduced by factious leaders into intemperate and pernicious resolutions.” Federalist No. 62
“It is a misfortune of republican government, though in a less degree than other governments, that those who administer it may forget their obligations to their constituents, and prove unfaithful to their important trust. In this point of view, a senate, as a second branch of the legislative assembly, distinct from, and the power with, a first, must be in all cases a salutary check on the government.”Federalist No. 62
I have come to believe over the past two weeks that the Senate is the place where the shutdown stalemate finally ends. (I strongly suspect Madison and Hamilton would concur.) Today, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell finally allowed two bills to be considered that would have reopened the government.
This is why I wish we had 100 Johnny Isaksons in the Senate. Not just once along party lines in a vote he knew would fail – like our junior (in every sense of the word) senator – but twice, the second time voting with only five other Republicans in favor of the Democrats’ bill to open the government while negotiations on border security continue, was the gentleman from Georgia. Knowing that a “nay” vote would have been a vote against civil workers in the state and farmers in South Georgia desperately awaiting disaster relief funds, he put Georgians and other Americans ahead of political gamesmanship, and I love him for it.
From his floor speech:
“You know a lot of people think Congress’ job is to come to Washington and change things for the better. When it comes to immigration, all we ever change is the subject. We never end the debate, we never pass a result, and often times we would call each other names for the wrong reason.
“I’m here for one reason: To thank the colleagues that are on the floor here and all those others that are ready to do some business. I’m ready to do some business.
“It’s time we put the workers in our government back to work. It’s time we were doing what we promised the people of the United States of America we would do, a nd it’s time we went to work. Because when everybody’s out of work, it’s our fault. These are the people who carry the mail, empty the garbage, cook in the cafeteria, clean up the parks, and do everything they do without any complaint whatsoever. But they’re out there, many of them not even being paid right now, while we’re sitting here debating a subject that we can’t reach a solution on, period.
“We need to take our armor off, leave our weapons at the door, walk in the room, shake hands. … Let’s sit down, and let’s pass a bill we can both agree on that gets Americans back to work and restores the spirit of Ellis Island and the pride of the United States of America.”
Video of these remarks is available here.
Senators don’t just represent a section of handpicked, likeminded voters in a small area; they represent everyone within the borders of their respective states. As the shutdown drags on and Americans get more desperate, I expect other Senators to follow in Johnny Isakson’s footsteps, remembering that none other that the framer of our Constitution expected them to safeguard our citizens from whims of intemperate and pernicious resolutions.
*Concrete, metal, see through, with holes, Mexican funded, American taxpayer funded. Who knows anymore?