Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Olympia Snowe says in the statement announcing her retirement:

As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.

But sorry -- this is absolutely correct:

The only thing that's going to bring us closer to a time when "civility in government" is possible is the mass defection of non-crazy people from the Republican Party. The few remaining sane elected Republicans need to declare that they're not Republicans, need to stop caucusing with Republicans (let 'em form their own mini-caucus if they don't want to caucus with Democrats, just as long as they tell the GOP to piss off), need to stop doing what the Republican Party wants on key votes. We don't have a civility crisis -- we have a Republican intransigence crisis. If sane people leave the party, the party will suffer diminished clout and its public image will worsen. That's precisely what needs to happen.

If Snowe were serious about cooperation and compromise, she'd have long since stopped pretending to be a potential vote for compromise, only to get right back in lockstep when her party's leadership snaps its fingers. This year she should have flipped off the GOP, run, and won (she's tremendously popular in Maine, but is least popular with Republicans). The GOP needs to be publicly repudiated, if necessary by hundreds of elected and appointed officials, until it finally gets the message. Nothing else is going to work. Anyone who frets about our political culture and retains an (R) after his or her name is just enabling the GOP to remain as it is. That's no surprise from Snowe, who's all talk on this subject, but this was her chance to live up to her rhetoric for the first time, and she blew it.


Jack said...

Maybe she wants to be the Americans Elect candidate. Her excuse for quitting is identical to their excuse for existing.

BH said...

Well said, Jack. And sounds plausible enough, although I had assumed she'd just end up at some pointless think-tank or other (unless the press of post-Senate "consulting" was too onerous).

Heron said...

A good critique, but I think you ignore how vital the Parties have become for fund-raising and everyday political activity, even at the state and local level. It's all well and good to say Ms. Snowe should have left, either for the Dems or for some "Sane Republican Caucus", but perhaps she felt the difficulties of creating her own funding and get-out-the-vote system from whole-cloth, against the active obstruction of her old Republican party machine, to be insurmountable.

Steve M. said...

She's in a small state and has a sky-high approval rating, and her state elected an independent governor twice not long ago. It can be done.