Ah, we had an absolutely fabulous Senate until those evil Republicans took control when Ronald Reagan was elected. So writes Ira Shapiro of the Clinton administration, in an article which opens celebrating the election of Sen. Chris Dodd, (D-Countrywide), who just announced his retirement. Shapiro’s sense of loss has to be read to be believed:
That night, they were all defeated as Ronald Reagan won a crushing victory over Jimmy Carter. Additionally, Abraham Ribicoff, one of the liberal stalwarts, had retired, as had Adlai Stevenson, while Ed Muskie had left the Senate in May to become secretary of state. It was the greatest exodus of talent and experience in Senate history. The incoming Republican class had a few promising politicians, but it also included many who came with no visible accomplishments, and left, one term later, with that record intact.
In the weeks that followed, we Democrats were virtual zombies, numb with grief and shock. It didn’t help that the Republicans celebrated boisterously and endlessly. At the end of one long day, the elevator opened in front of me, and a group of happy Republicans, dressed in formal wear, poured out. I noticed a heavily made-up but still strikingly attractive woman: Senator John Warner’s wife, better known as Elizabeth Taylor.
The 1980 election was more than just a change of party control from Democratic to Republican. Gone was the Senate that had been experienced, progressive and bipartisan; 30 years have passed, and the decline has only accelerated. The Senate today is bitterly divided, frequently paralyzed and borderline bizarre. Olympia Snowe offered this sad observation: “We have been miniaturized.”
It’s just so horrible. The great and wonderful, smart and talented, bipartisan and fabulous, ethical and virtuous, and simply all around neat people on the Democratic side did wonderful things for decades until the evil Republicans came along. Gone, gone forever is the “experienced, progressive and bipartisan” Senate which did so much to transform a political system based on liberty to one devoted to statism. The horror, the horror!
Yes, let us pray that health care “reform” can “renew” the Senate, as Shapiro hopes. I’ve been waiting since November 1980 for the world’s greatest debating society to bring meaning to my life by completing the government takeover of civil society.
Just how did early Americans get along without activists like Ira Shapiro to show them the way?