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Casualties of partisanship

Posted: March 1, 2012 10:28 a.m.
Updated: March 2, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The cause of centrism in the U.S. Senate took another nosedive this week when Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine stunned everyone with her announcement that she wouldn’t seek another term. Snowe, who won her 2006 re-election bid with a whopping 74 percent of the vote, said she was tired of the partisan bickering in the Senate. “I do find it frustrating … that an atmosphere of polarization and ‘my way or the highway’ ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions,” Snowe declared.

Her departure from what’s sometimes called “the most exclusive club in the country” will further thin the ranks of lawmakers who are willing to look at other people’s opinions and come to a compromise or consensus that will benefit the country. Maine’s other senator, Susan Collins, is also a moderate Republican, a term that’s becoming an oxymoron. Democrat Ben Nelson of Colorado, another senator who makes an effort at centrism, is retiring, as is Joe Lieberman, a one-time Democratic vice presidential candidate who’s now an Independent.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has also demonstrated a willingness to work with Democrats, and he has been roundly criticized for it by many Republicans here in the Palmetto State. He says he expects a primary challenge when he runs for re-election because of those on the far right who adopt a do-or-die attitude.

All this, of course, is a trend that’s been developing for years. Hard-liners on both sides are the norm rather than the exception these days, and for the citizens of this country, that’s a shame.

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