Editorial: To really solve our problems, senators need to extend a hand

It’s not hard to find fault with President Trump.

His often boorish behavior and shotgun approach to factuality is an embarrassment to anyone who appreciates order and … well, truth. His shoot-from-the-hip M.O. doesn’t really play well on the national or international stages for those who expect protocol – not that he seems to care, particularly.

In a lot of ways, his behavior reminds us more of an emperor than a president.

While he sounded encouragingly presidential last month in his address to Congress, he still has that Twitter account.

That said, his opponents aren’t behaving much better. Oregon senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have been shrill in their response to seemingly every move Trump and the Republicans have made since Inauguration Day.

Based on the volume of email we’ve received since the inauguration, it appears that most of their efforts have been focused on “resistance” – to seemingly just about everything the Trump Administration has proposed, including a series of petitions and requests for donations which Merkley has circulated in the past two months.

He calls on constituents to respond on issues such as health care, Jeff Sessions, Trump’s federal court nominees, Trump’s relationship with Russia, Trump’s income taxes, women’s rights, “undocumented immigrants,” tax breaks for big business, “slashing funding for social programs,” Trump’s “dark vision for America” and his “radical agenda, not one that serves the American people,” among others.

Merkley got national attention for leading a Democratic fillibuster of “any Supreme Court pick that is not Merrick Garland,” President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia.

Monday morning brought another email from Merkeley, vowing to continue his opposition to Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court: “The Republicans have stolen this Supreme Court nomination from President Obama, and I am going to do everything in my power to stop this theft.

“If Donald Trump truly wants to unite the country, he should nominate Judge Merrick Garland, whose confirmation hearing was indefinitely delayed by GOP leaders – a partisan scheme unprecedented in American history.

“With your support, we can build a movement to resist Trump’s agenda and fight for our progressive values. Chip in $9 now to keep the resistance strong!”

Resistance to ideas they consider wrong is expected from our elected officials. The Republicans did play hardball, if not worse, to block of the confirmation process for federal judgeships leaves Trump with a backlog of 124 seats to fill, according to the New York Times.

The GOP’s motive was to stall so those seats could hopefully be filled by a president inclined to appreciation for narrow, literal constitutional interpretation rather than judges who tend to use the bench as their own activist platform to make law. Whether their action was right or not comes down to how we feel about that old adage, “The end justifies the means.”

Justices’ view of the Constitution is a legitimate issue. But from a political standpoint, the Republicans’ strategy did little to build bridges in an already badly fractured Congress.

The most recent bone of contention – along with the presumed Russian influence, the tax returns, the Wall and the immigration bans, concerns over the Trump business empire and everything else the new president’s arrival has tossed into the political arena – is the federal budget proposal introduced last week.

Some of the cuts the Trump Administration has suggested are going to be painful, if enacted, and may hurt Oregon, but we applaud an actual effort to stench the bleeding – our national debt is closing in on $20 trillion.

There are a lot of competing interests here. Excessive environmentalism has deeply wounded communities like Sweet Home, but the counter interests of Big Business, which appear to be gaining some significant ground, also can have dire effects on the people of America, as history attests.

That’s why we need elected officials who listen to us and who have enough political capital to effectively represent us. The Trump Administration could make changes on a lot of issues that affect legal residents of Oregon: management of our natural resources, maintenance of our infrastructure, creation of family-wage jobs.

For those of us who still hold on to the hope that our elected officials can conduct themselves in decorous fashion and actually work together for the betterment of our country, it bodes even worse as we look at Trump’s proposed budget.

If we were going to court, would we want our lawyer to be on very bad terms with the judge who was to rule on our case?

It’s almost universally acknowledged that partisanship is a big problem in Washington.

Somebody’s got to stop the bleeding here and we’d suggest Oregon’s congressional delegates could do us all a lot of good by simply playing nice.

Trump has certainly stomped on toes, but it remains to be seen exactly where he’s going with all of this. We aren’t the only ones thinking – or at least saying – this. In a St. Patrick’s Day address to the Society of Irish Women in her father’s hometown of Scranton, Pa., Hillary Clinton said it quite well: “I do not believe that we can let political divides harden into personal divides. And we can’t just ignore or turn a cold shoulder to someone because they disagree with us politically.”

Well put.

Maybe it’s time to really be progressive and let bygones be bygones.

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