Olympia Snowe at Powell Hall

This article is the published version of a review submitted to the Bascom Honors Program at Maryville University.

Bipartisanship seems to be a word that is overused in the government these days, particularly by the far left and the far right. However, it is the apparent goal of former Republican Congresswoman Olympia Snowe. Snowe emphasized in her lecture that the progress of bipartisanship was not effective within the government itself. While I can certainly appreciate the outcries for bipartisanship, and can agree that it is a must for a functioning government, much of Snowe’s lecture was one-dimensionally centered on this issue. Snow emphasized this so much in fact, that she tended to make it seem as if bipartisanship would solve every issue present in the government now and in the future.

Accompanying Congresswoman Snowe’s lecture on bipartisanship, she did touch on a few other subjects briefly. Particularly in statistics that are rather shocking and do not get the attention that is deserved. Snowe expressed concern over unemployment, stating that the reason numbers have fallen is less due to the finding of jobs, but rather a lack of persons seeking jobs due to a poor job market. She also gave a staggering mention of the GDP associated with debt, doubling from 2007 to 2013 (35% to 74% respectively). Snowe’s solution for this in lieu of bipartisanship was to embrace the Reagan Model for economics based on the former administrations success.

The core of her lecture, as stated is turning red and blue to purple. The foundation of which her arguments have been made is in the sole fact that the blue has gotten bluer, and the red has gotten redder. This may in fact be true, and we can see it today with Nancy Pelosi and Ted Cruz. But the hope that she has emphasized for rebuilding the relationships in the middle of the isle is that we are a “can do nation.” Her numbers do not reflect this though stating that today there are 0 bipartisan members in the Senate and only 4 in the house.

Snowe went on to indicate that congress is at its highest polarization since 1879, and that it is also the least productive it has been since 1947. To put that in perspective over 900 bills were passed in 1947, and in 2013 there were only 283. So far in 2014, the total passed is 79. The problem in Snowe’s words is that “people don’t listen to what they disagree with.” If I could be on board with anything in this lecture without modifying it, that sentence would be it. However, I certainly applaud what Snowe says she is trying to accomplish. Now, we will have to wait and see if her rally for bipartisanship in the House and Senate really works, but it leaves the question of will that be enough?

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