The 114th Congress convenes on Tuesday, meaning Georgia’s newbies will encounter new challenges. The New York Times asked several outgoing members of Congress what wisdom they wish to share with the incoming class. The resounding nugget: Partisanship is easy, governing is hard.
Outgoing U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss recalled an experience from the mid-90s when Republicans took control of the House.
“We were all ultra right-wingers, but we figured out right quick that when you are in the majority, you have to govern,” he said of the 1994 class of House Republicans. “If you are going to govern in this country you are not going to govern on the far right or the far left. You’ve got to figure out a way to somehow get pretty close to the middle, otherwise you are going to do what we did — that is shut the government down. And we paid a heavy price for it. And you saw that again just a year ago.
“We need to find the best solution that is not a political solution and that requires hard and tough votes to be made,” Mr. Chambliss said. “And nobody around here has been willing to make hard and tough votes the last four years.”
Congressman Kingston urged the newcomers to break out of the partisan cycle and focus on doing what is best for America.
If lawmakers are to break out of the partisan cycle, Mr. Kingston said, they need to avoid being inundated by their constituents in an increasingly digital world where members of Congress find themselves under immediate pressure as events unfold.
“If new members allow their base to control their behavior up here they are going to be miserable,” said Mr. Kingston, who has seen the rising influence of Tea Party activists on Republican lawmakers. “While the voters might be yelling and screaming at you to do something, that’s not your job.
“You have to look at all the information and then make the best determination as to what’s going to be best for America,” he said. “Sometimes you have to have disagreements with your own party along the way, and that is O.K.”
Senator-elect Perdue and Congressmen-elect Carter, Loudermilk and Hice have some rather large shoes to fill. It appears Georgia’s outgoing leaders hope this new crop of leaders will avoid partisanship. I guess we’ll see Tuesday.