Thompson talks partisan divide
There is polling to suggest that Americans may be more divided today than any time since the Civil War.
Congressman Glenn Thompson has served in the House of Representatives since 2009 and can see that division in Congress.
“I think the partisanship,” he said, “has gotten deeper and wider.”
He acknowledged that elections have brought about the change in Congress.
“On the Republican side, we have had some folks who are to the far right… and frequently don’t support things that I think are kind of practical,” Thompson explained. “Many of these folks are my friends.”
He said he teases thost members, telling them he would never give them an apple to eat because they would eat it all in one bite and choke.
The same shift has happened on the left.
“(I have) seen the far left almost go off the table,” he added, with some touting openly socialist views as well as the “defund the police” narrative.
“These two extremes,” he said, “really do impact the partisan divide. It does drive us apart. Those who want to bring (bipartisan ideas) to the table have to work all the harder to make that happen…. I think the best legislation is legislation that is passed in a bipartisan fashion. Legislation passed by one party… it doesn’t last. It will be repealed when the pendulum swings and the other party is in control.”
Thompson explained that there is “nothing wrong with partisanship” because it brings diverse ideas.
“We are a diverse nation,” he said, acknowledging he would not be elected in Nancy Pelosi’s district and she would not be elected here.
“So that partisanship,” he said, “is a friction but it’s different ideas. It works well when we have regular order, everyone is welcome to the table.”
He highlighted bipartisan work he’s done on issues from career and technical education to Community Development Block grant guidelines and the farm bill.
“You have to put it in the perspective of history,” he said. “You know what’s different today? Uncivil behavior. The civility is easy. (We) can disagree without being disagreeable as far as I’m concerned.
“That’s what we need to strive for, civility,” he added. “(There are) members on both sides of the aisle that have not learned that lesson.”
Thompson said social media has compounded this situation and that cameras on the floor of the House and Senate changed behavior.
Whether you consume news on the left or the right, you’re going to hear many of the same names – Pelosi, McCarthy, Taylor Greene, AOC.
If you only heard from the leadership and those other select voices, you might think that bipartisanship is dead but Thompson doesn’t view the situation that way.
“I sometimes phrase it this way,” he said. “You got show horses and work horses. I’m not a show horse.”
He cited work on the environment, poverty, telemedicine, agriculture and career and technical education as evidence that he falls into that other category.
“We do have some there that fall into the show horse. We have members on both sides of the aisle” that work hard to get in front of cameras.
“Personally,” he explained. “I like working with people that are legislators…. (There are a) lot of good folks on both sides of the aisle” promoting good legislation.
“Those things don’t get reported,” he said. “Certain members of Congress are always able to get in front of cameras.
“(It is) not a voice that represents the majority of people serving in Congress.”