LTE: bipartisanship, a measure of successful representation



Guest Column

Editor’s note: the following guest column was submitted by Steve Corbin, professor emeritus of marketing at UNI.

Since June 16, 2015 when Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy to become the U.S.’s 45th president, voters have learned he is obsessed with polls.  When any Trump number looks good he touts about it, and when the polls aren’t in his favor, they’re either altered to satisfy his drive to win or someone is blamed.

Right after Trump bypassed GOP leaders to strike a short-term spending deal with Congress’s Democratic leaders, Trump’s popularity numbers increased from 32 to 41 percent — still the lowest mark for modern day presidents.

In mid-September, the conservative Wall Street Journal and centrist NBC News surveyed Americans about Trump’s performance.  The ONLY attribute with majority favorable feeling was Trump’s most recent bipartisan behavior with Democrats (71 percent).

As a centrist with Republican fiscally conservative and pro-business beliefs and Democratic social and civil rights values, I’m pleased to see 71 percent of Americans approve of Mr. Trump working in a bipartisanship manner.  Any worthy student in an American History class knows U.S.’s successes that started well before the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and up to today, are due to legislators of varied ideological viewpoints putting their differences aside and agreeing to compromise.

We saw it in the 1980’s when President Ronald Reagan (Rep.) and House Speaker Tip O’Neill (Dem.) worked across party lines to reform our tax code and protect Social Security.  Bipartisanship was repeated in the 1990’s when President Bill Clinton (Dem.) and House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Rep.) put aside differences to balance the budget.

If 71 percent of Americans value cooperative legislative behavior, the remaining 29 percent are either ignorant and flunked their American History class and/or they are staunch Republicans or stubborn Democrats whose head is stuck in the sand.

Meanwhile, in examining Iowa’s six elected representatives to Washington, DC, we’ve got a mixed bag of bipartisan legislators.  The Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy has produced, since 1993, a non-partisan ranking of how often each member of Congress works across party lines.

  • Charles Grassley (Rep.) is ranked the fifth (out of 100) best bipartisan Senator on the Lugar Center Bipartisanship Index; an obvious “A” grade.
  • Joni Ernst (Rep.) is ranked #31; a B- grade and on the “needs to improve” list.
  • Of the 435 members in the House of Representatives, we can be proud of David Loebsack (Dem.) who’s ranked #114 (top 26 percent) and David Young (Rep.) who garnered a number 143 ranking (top 32 percent). Loebsack receives a solid “B” grade while Mr. Young gets a “B-” and “needs to improve” recommendation.
  • Rod Blum (Rep.) has a very disappointing bipartisanship ranking of #314 (bottom 28 percent) and has earned an “F” grade. It’s of no surprise Steve King (Rep.) is selfish, not a team player and has a bipartisan index ranking of #420—15 from the worse of the worse; he’s definitely flunked Congress and his constituents.

Observing how the Republican controlled Congress can’t even “pass the salt and pepper,” bipartisanship is the ONLY way we’re going to resolve significant issues such as tax reform, infrastructure repair, health care, DACA resolve, immigration reform, FY 2018 budget, $20T federal deficit, international trade agreements, civil rights protection, women’s inequality, energy grid fortification, foreign policy, cybersecurity, criminal justice reform . . . just to name a few.

If our president and elected representatives can’t respect ideological diversity, value dialogue, cooperate, compromise and put people before their party, then it’s our patriotic duty to kick `em out of office.  Only honorable and mature citizens should represent We the People.

From an introspective standpoint, where would you rank if the Lugar Center Bipartisan Index were applied to your political values; must you win at all costs or can you play fairly with others?