In 1978, when my then-husband Don Ritter was first elected to the House of Representatives from the Pennsylvania 15 Congressional seat, the Washington political scene was different than it is now. At that time, members of both parties could meet and discuss issues and not be censured by their party.
Today, Russia is exerting enormous influence on our governance. In 1988, I was included in a House committee trip of both Democrats and Republicans to visit the city of Komsomol, which housed the Soviet space program outside Moscow. In the normal course of the meetings and conversations, I was aware of the differences between the Democratic and Republican members. What was heartening to me was how quickly members of both parties came together when the Soviet members of the group diverged from the topic of cooperation in space and attacked the American members on national issues unrelated to the meeting. I wish our legislators, and president, would still cooperate in facing threats to our national well being.
Our democratic norms are being trampled. Polarization led us to the paralysis and negativism we now experience. In order to get anything done, presidents, rightly or wrongly, resort to executive orders without laws approved by legislative bodies. We now lack the civility that encouraged us to work together. If we want our Congress to be “Great Again,” we need our representatives to break this mold and once again seek bipartisan support. Through our votes and vocal support, let’s encourage those representatives that want to find a way to work together, in the best interests of our country, to bring us back to a time when the goal was a more perfect union.