Washington, D.C. — “Unyielding adherence to an extreme position is easy. It is the hard work of bringing people together to find common ground that requires determination, intellect, and courage,” Senator Collins told American University (AU) students during her lecture about the dangers of increasing partisanship in Congress.
Senator Collins spoke at AU’s Washington, D.C., campus this evening at the invitation of the Kennedy Political Union (KPU), AU’s non-partisan, student-run, student-funded speakers bureau. Senator Collins was KPU’s first speaker of the academic year.
Senator Collins noted that, since the beginning of her Senate service, she has witnessed a decline in civility and a growing resistance to compromise, which have contributed to obstructionism, division, and dysfunction. Senator Collins identified a number of factors exacerbating this trend, including the gerrymandering of congressional districts, mounting distrust of individuals who hold opposing political views, and polarizing media that reinforce political convictions rather than exposing people to alternative viewpoints.
“For too many today, achieving solutions is not the primary goal; rather, it is to draw sharp distinctions and score political points, even if that means that the problems confronting our country go unresolved,” remarked Senator Collins.
Senator Collins discussed her efforts to overcome hyperpartisanship and gridlock in Congress, citing her recent work to draft a compromise gun bill in the wake of the Orlando massacre that received strong bipartisan support.
“When our amendment came to vote on the Senate floor, there was a procedural effort to kill our ‘No-Fly, No-Buy’ compromise. In the face of this effort, a majority of the U.S. Senate voted to keep our amendment alive, demonstrating that there is strong bipartisan support for common sense legislation that would help keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans,” Senator Collins continued. “I was very encouraged by the majority vote in support of our amendment, and I am continuing to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to advance this vital issue.”
Senator Collins concluded her speech by encouraging students to recognize the threats that rising partisanship and incivility pose to our political culture and work to overcome these pernicious trends.
“Whether Washington leads the nation in incivility or merely reflects our society, we each can play an important role in elevating the level of discourse,” said Senator Collins. “…[W]e who represent the people of this great nation must put progress over partisanship, statesmanship over stridency, and compromise over conflict. That would produce a very different legislative climate, one in which the objective is to solve the problem, not just to score political points.
Click HERE to read Senator Collins’ speech as prepared for delivery