Since 2010, when the 112th Congress was elected into office, partisan gridlock has risen to new and embarrassing levels in Washington, D.C. Members of both the House and the Senate found it nearly impossible to work with members of the other political party in order to pass legislation and decided that sticking to a rigid ideology was more important than working to stimulate an economic recovery. The result of this highly partisan gamesmanship was a Congress that not only failed to improve the nation through enacting new laws and policies, but eventually harmed it. Instead of tackling pressing issues such as our sluggish economic recovery, climate change or college debt, lawmakers relied heavily on the filibuster to block legislation produced by their political opponents.
Unprecedented partisan gridlock has not been exclusive to the U. S. Congress. Here in Minnesota, when our state Legislature failed to compromise on a budget of their own, it resulted in a government shutdown that was harmful to both public and private sectors of the state economy.
As newly elected and re-elected lawmakers begin to set their own agenda for the upcoming legislative sessions, they should make a conscious effort to get to know their colleagues who sit on the other side of the aisle. Statesmanship and bipartisanship are characteristics that can be easily attained when lawmakers form friendships and partnerships outside of the House and Senate floor.
Our elected officials, as well as we, their constituents, must also acknowledge that a rigid and uncompromising ideology will only continue to create bitter partisanship and gridlock. While being passionate about an issue is certainly not a bad thing, having an open mind that is able to take in new information and see things from multiple perspectives is the only way lawmakers can properly govern a nation facing so many vast and complex problems.