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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Senator Olympia Snowe (Retired) and Texas Energy Tycoon Boone Pickens are Unlikely Bookend Pundits on Congressional Partisans

When Snowe-Pickens speak, maybe they'll draw a crowd!

Senator Olympia Snowe spoke with the Public Broadcasting Network (PBN) News Hour Judy Woodruff on April 2, about Congressional ineffectiveness, driven by partisanship.

"What is the purpose of public service? It's to solve problems for the people you represent...," Senator Olympia Snowe on April 2, 2013 News Hour.

(From the transcript) JUDY WOODRUFF: The past few years have seen more gridlock in Washington and politics nationally than at any other time in memory. From the fights over health care reform and the debt limit to the so-called fiscal cliff, the two parties have seemed like separate armed camps.  Is it possible for lawmakers to bridge the partisan divide?

Senator Snowe said, "....given the polarization that's occurred, and most exponentially over the last few years. It has truly gotten worse.  You could see the slow, steady erosion of what was happening and evolving. But it had clearly gotten worse to the point that we're no longer solving problems and most especially the big problems facing this country. So, I thought I could add my voice on the outside to encourage people to demand bipartisanship, to understand the value of bipartisanship and consensus-building in the political arena."

Move forward to the next day, on Wednesday morning's MSNBC Morning Joe with host Joe Scarborough:

....Texas energy czar Thomas Boone Pickens, Jr., known as T. Boone Pickens, spoke with brutal frankness about the "incompetent" US Congress. Pickens is an American business magnate and financier who chairs the hedge fund BP Capital Management."

Pickens is openly frustrated with the US Congress being unable to identify ways for the US to move forward with an energy policy using the nation's vast natural gas resources.  He called the Congress the largest group of incompetent people in the world. When pushed about whether or not there were any political leaders on the horizon who could offer the US a path of hope out of the incompetence, Pickens simply said, "...help me, you know politics better than I do...help me...."

A dedicated public servant like Senator Olympia Snowe is in agreement with Pickens, the rich and high profile energy advocate, about the same exact political dynamic.  Partisanship in Washington is dragging down our nation's ability to solve problems.

What Pickens fails to mention, however, is how the constituents of the elected Congressional representatives are driving this political divide.  Right wing voters want to support elected officials who will not compromise.  

Senator Snowe, on the other hand, addressed the constituent issue by suggesting changes in primary elections. She called for "open primaries" whereby  a broader spectrum of voters would elect candidates, as opposed to the current system where mostly ideological voters are driven to the primary process.

Snowe told Woodruff...."And what I have been saying in my speeches all over the country is that it's time for all of us to provide rewards for those who are willing to engage in bipartisanship and working across the political aisle and providing a political penalty for those who don't."

Snowe and Pickens may be unlikely allies in punditry, but amazing things can happen when polar opposites attract on the same political issues.  Imagine the power of a Snowe-Pickens "Fix Washington" stump speech campaign!  I suspect few people could resist the influence of these two successful and outspoken Americans, if they joined forces to remove obstructionists in Congress.  Let's hope Americans hear more from these two dedicated people as we look toward (sigh!) the 2014 elections.  

As fatigued as Americans are with Washington partisanship, we must gather the energy needed to oppose this divide.  Perhaps Snowe-Pickens can infuse their special brand of political oxygen into ventilating change in our flawed Democratic processes.

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