The Washington Post has released an opinion piece with 44 former U.S. Senators, including Missouri Republican Jack Danforth, saying the U.S is entering a dangerous period. Danforth tells MSNBC the bipartisan group’s comments are in response to Robert Mueller’s investigation of President Trump and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.
“The concern that we have is that things are terribly divided now, but that it’s going to get much worse or at least it has the potential to get much worse, as the Trump problems continue to unfold,” says Danforth. “Our appeal is to the Senate to try to be more bipartisan. The country has become terribly polarized. This is not new for me. A lot of people have commented on it. Everybody seems to be mad all the time.”
The opinion column is titled “We are former senators. The Senate has long stood in defense of democracy – and must again”.
The group urges current Senators to work together to place the country, democracy and national interest above all else. They say America is headed toward a crisis if current Senators are not working in a bipartisan way and being “steadfast zealous guardians of our democracy”.
“It means the two parties communicating with each other and not just voting as they do say in the British Parliament – right along party lines. It means getting back to what’s known as the regular order, which means that the committee system works,” says Danforth.
He goes on to say that social interaction between lawmakers of opposite parties is also important.
“It’s important for people to know each other, know their families and to live in Washington,” he says.
Danforth says the Senate began to become very partisan after the 1992 election.
“A number of Republicans came over to the Senate from the House. In the House, they had not been treated well. So, they came over with a very hard edge to them. I believe it started there and I think it’s increased over the years,” Danforth says.
He cites the increasing divide is in part due to social media and the cable news networks.
“It’s not that politics in the old days was just as pure as the driven snow. It certainly wasn’t that, but you were able to have the legislative system work. It did work reasonably well. I don’t think it works at all now.”
Danforth served as U.S. Senator in Missouri from 1976 to 1995. He also served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush.
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