RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Excerpt: "Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned."

Sen. Olympia Snowe speaks to media outside her office on Capitol Hill, 02/28/12. (photo: AP)
Sen. Olympia Snowe speaks to media outside her office on Capitol Hill, 02/28/12. (photo: AP)

Why I'm Leaving the Senate

By Olympia Snowe, Reader Supported News

02 March 12


wo truths are all too often overshadowed in today's political discourse: Public service is a most honorable pursuit, and so is bipartisanship.

I have been immeasurably honored to serve the people of Maine for nearly 40 years in public office and for the past 17 years in the United States Senate. It was incredibly difficult to decide that I would not seek a fourth term in the Senate.

Some people were surprised by my conclusion, yet I have spoken on the floor of the Senate for years about the dysfunction and political polarization in the institution. Simply put, the Senate is not living up to what the Founding Fathers envisioned.

During the Federal Convention of 1787, James Madison wrote in his Notes of Debates that "the use of the Senate is to consist in its proceedings with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch." Indeed, the Founding Fathers intended the Senate to serve as an institutional check that ensures all voices are heard and considered, because while our constitutional democracy is premised on majority rule, it is also grounded in a commitment to minority rights.

Yet more than 200 years later, the greatest deliberative body in human history is not living up to its billing. The Senate of today routinely jettisons regular order, as evidenced by the body's failure to pass a budget for more than 1,000 days; serially legislates by political brinkmanship, as demonstrated by the debt-ceiling debacle of August that should have been addressed the previous January; and habitually eschews full debate and an open amendment process in favor of competing, up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it proposals. We witnessed this again in December with votes on two separate proposals for a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution.

As Ronald Brownstein recently observed in National Journal, Congress is becoming more like a parliamentary system - where everyone simply votes with their party and those in charge employ every possible tactic to block the other side. But that is not what America is all about, and it's not what the Founders intended. In fact, the Senate's requirement of a supermajority to pass significant legislation encourages its members to work in a bipartisan fashion.

One difficulty in making the Senate work the way it was intended is that America's electorate is increasingly divided into red and blue states, with lawmakers representing just one color or the other. Before the 1994 election, 34 senators came from states that voted for a presidential nominee of the opposing party. That number has dropped to just 25 senators in 2012. The result is that there is no practical incentive for 75 percent of the senators to work across party lines.

The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future.

For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building - but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.

I certainly don't have all the answers, and reversing the corrosive trend of winner-take-all politics will take time. But as I enter a new chapter in my life, I see a critical need to engender public support for the political center, for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us.

I do not believe that, in the near term, the Senate can correct itself from within. It is by nature a political entity and, therefore, there must be a benefit to working across the aisle.

But whenever Americans have set our minds to tackling enormous problems, we have met with tremendous success. And I am convinced that, if the people of our nation raise their collective voices, we can effect a renewal of the art of legislating - and restore the luster of a Senate that still has the potential of achieving monumental solutions to our nation's most urgent challenges. I look forward to helping the country raise those voices to support the Senate returning to its deserved status and stature - but from outside the institution. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+185 # Barbara K 2012-03-02 13:59
I watch the Senate, and I hate to see you leave the Senate, Ms. Snowe. You were the best they had on the Republican side. I understand fully why you are leaving. It has become a very unfriendly atmosphere around there with the Rs wanting nothing but NO votes on everything that made it to be voted on. Thanks for the times you stepped up and helped the Dems.


our future is at stake
+95 # szq5777 2012-03-02 15:56
You bet I will vote STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC!As a poor person I know that Republicans are my enemy!
+8 # beeyl 2012-03-04 17:31
Yes, the Republicans are your enemy; unfortunately, so are most Democrats. The problem with Congress isn't partisanship, which Ms Snowe knows better than anyone, making this letter both cowardly and dishonest. The problem with Congress is that nearly everyone in that body is owned outright by huge corporations and their lobbyists.

These forces are responsible for killing the public option (in both chambers of Congress and in the White House), for extending the Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy, and for the shameful 93 Senate votes (can everyone say partisan gridlock?) supporting NDAA. In fact, the less popular a legislative action is with most Americans, the more you can count on seeing bipartisanship in Congress working to stuff it down our throats.
+5 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-05 04:37
That's right. Bipartisanship now simply means that both parties agree to represent their paying clients.
+3 # Pancho 2012-03-06 06:42
Ms. Snowe is hardly "cowardly" or "dishonest." She wrote what she believed and I can't find a word with which I disagree. Claiming that Democrats are "responsible," "for extending the Bush tax cuts," is fundamentally dishonest. The Republicans used their power of the filibuster to extract endless protection for the 1%. Obama caved because he retained some ill conceived notion of bipartisanship and because he was desperate to extend unemployment benefits for millions of workers who were losing their homes, their cars and too often, their lives.

I personally think that was a bad idea, and he had other bad ideas, including one you mentioned, forbidding even testimony on the public option. One assumes he could have leaned heavily on Max Baucus to put that before the Senate and the electorate.

But blaming the continuance of the Bush tax cuts on Democrats is basically dishonest, and Ms. Snowe put her name on her thoughts and spoke the truth to power, hardly "cowardly." You haven't done the same
+4 # Justice for All 2012-03-05 11:06
We have all been duped into an entanglement of Democrat vs. Republican. Both sides work for your enemy and not us. We have got to distance ourselves from that which will destroy us if we have any chance at all of survival. Look at the big picture. Declare your own independence.
+31 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-03-02 16:30
As much as I agree with you, I am sure you realize that "VOTE STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC" is the problem why she is resigning, together with "VOTE STRAIGHT GOP".
+18 # Rita Walpole Ague 2012-03-03 10:12
Granny, congrats on your critical thinking smarts vs. knee jerk voting naive, brainwased response.

With years of politics in my background and family history (i.e. Sir Robt. Walpole and Andrew Jackson hang on opposit sides of my family tree), I so miss the days of gentleman/ladyl ike aura of co-operation and noblese oblige in the Senate, the ability of those elected to truly, like Sen. Snowe, be servers vs. $$$ into their own pockets, whippers and strippers of the people.

Wish we had true blue Dems. vs. so many Oh Bomb Ah style pols.( people servers willing to put an end to war, war, war for the profit of the greed and power addicted villainaires) and Ike-like G.O.P.ers (willing to warn us of the mic power grab, instead of the Kochsucking, Greedy Old Party pols., puppet minions of the villainaires.

I join with Sen. Snowe in mourning over the loss of a functioning for the people govt., rule of law, and liberty and justice for all.

-12 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 14:07
Yes, it is hard to cope with the left as it appears in Obamaguise. Just think: here is a fellow who won a Nobel Peace prize for taking over two inherited wars, joined in a third (Libya) and is contemplating a fourth (Iran) or is it a fifth or a sixth (I don't how quite how to describe events in Yemen and Pakistan).

Never mind the "war" on drugs and the ubiquitous "war" on terror - both of which are deeply implicated in the development of a "National Security State (which sounds so much nicer than a Police State, don't you think?). And, yes, Senator Snowe endorsed all of them too.
+14 # Nell H 2012-03-04 09:09
Quoting Granny Weatherwax:
As much as I agree with you, I am sure you realize that "VOTE STRAIGHT DEMOCRATIC" is the problem why she is resigning, together with "VOTE STRAIGHT GOP".

But, it is the Republicans that are imposing my-way-or-the-h ighway. Sen. DeMint of SC is the poster child of "don't think, just vote as the leadership tells you." The Democrats, bless them, just don't vote as a unit. If they did, we wouldn't have had Democratic Senators messing with the Obama-Romney Health Care bill instead of voting for it.
0 # Nell H 2012-03-04 09:13
Is it possible to take the party label off the names on the ballot? Instead of party primaries, could we just have primaries that qualify the top 3 or 4 vote-getters to be placed on the election ballot (and, of course, allow write-ins)?
+4 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:21
No, please!

That way anyone could pretent to be something they aren't. At least wearing the brand gives people a hint about what you REALLY think ... though I admit it doesn't always work ... after all, some people thought Mr. Obama was a progressive. In Senator Snowe's case, it did: for all the fussing about polite language and civility, she still voted for some pretty hideous legislation ... which, as a Republican, she was pleased to do.
0 # Justice for All 2012-03-05 11:13
If you don't like the candidates that you have been handed or if you don't really know who they are except for the information you have been fed, be very wary. DONT VOTE! Or write in your choice. We really don't know who these people are and we don't know their intentions. Blind trust is foolhardy.
+11 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-02 18:16
Senator Snow wrote, "As Ronald Brownstein recently observed in National Journal, Congress is becoming more like a parliamentary system - where everyone simply votes with their party and those in charge employ every possible tactic to block the other side." How is this different from your advice to "vote straight Democratic"?
+11 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-03 09:47

It is different because it is mainly Republicans that are creating the transformation into a Parliamentary system. One of the advantages of the US system is that is not truly party based.
For example look at the State of MA. The General Court is almost totally Democrats. The debates based on ideology are as strong here as in other states. The truth is there is not supposed to be any parties in the US.
-6 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-03 13:45
So, all the Democrats who voted for the health care bill even though they had committed to oppose it without a public option – and explained it was because if Obama failed on this issue, the rest of his agenda would suffer – had nothing to do with this "transformation "? This “need for cohesion” rationale has been provided repeatedly to justify votes on bills that benefit corporate donors rather than people. The fact that Republicans get nearly 100% party cooperation and the Democrats have only enough to pass bad legislation is not evidence that Republicans are the main problem.
+10 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-03 21:49

Yes, 100%, as you say, "cooperation" is the problem in the US Senate. On top of that, we have the Republicans altering the Majority rule into a super majority rule. Combine the lack of independent Senators with the annihilation of the Senate being able to function and you have a party creating a majority of the problems with Congress.
Those Dem. Senators they ended up voting for the Romney/Obama plan, knew it was better than what we had. That the Dems should have called the Republican's bluff, but it was not the Dems fault for not trying to be Bi-partisan.

We cannot pretend anymore that both sides are equally at fault. It is clear the Republicans in the Senate have created a Partisan army that blocks any all Democratic initiatives.
+8 # Billy Bob 2012-03-03 23:40
I agree with you AND Stephanie. We need to hold the Democratic Party accountable without replacing it with repugs.
-4 # RLF 2012-03-04 11:42
Problem is there is no system for dong that. Obamma needs to be held accountable for rethug economics he has used since day one, but there is no system for doing that with out giving the moron majority the upper hand.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-04 20:08
So, what is your plan to hold him accountable?
-2 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-04 15:21
Nor can we pretend that a party that is virtually completely corrupt is substantially different, overall, from one that is merely inundated by corruption.

Nor can we pretend that voting for the perceived "lesser of two evils" alone will change anything.
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-04 20:10
No one EVER suggested voting ALONE. I'm suggesting that we all VOTE however. If you don't want to vote for the lesser of two evils there are other choices. Remember, not voting is also a vote. It's vote for complacency. It sends the opposite of the message you're intending.
+2 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-05 04:25
You may not be suggesting that, but quite a few posts seem to indicate that the writer feels that voting Democratic is THE solution. When I discuss problems with the Democratic party in this forum I tend to get a lot of thumbs down, indicating that the only action they feel is necessary aside from voting is excusing members of their preferred party from the same actions they find objectionable when Republicans commit them.

Regarding voting, I thought I had been pretty clear that I support the idea that each one of us will vote for the person s/he feels is best and then keep up the pressure on whoever wins.

I disagree with not voting at all, but those who don't may make that choice because of disgust with the system or lack of hope in it rather than a sense of complacency.
+1 # Billy Bob 2012-03-05 13:00
I made the choice of not voting in 2010 to punish the Democratic Party and have regretted it ever since. In fact, they weren't punished at all. We were.

I appreciate what you're saying. The reason so many are such ardent supporters of the Democratic Party here is that we know full well that repugs troll these conversations for the purpose of drawing a false equivalency.

The Democratic Party hasn't felt enough pressure from us AND sitting this one out to punish them is ALSO not the answer. It's not a simple problem and the fix won't be either.
+4 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-05 08:38
Voting for the lesser of two evils alone will not change anything. You are correct.

But the real choice is what path is available to make things right. One choice is to make sure that everyone knows how much things are broken. This way is sure to make things change, the risk is the cure may be far worse than the disease.
The second way is to keep fixing things a bit at a time. It will take longer, maybe even never, since there will be times when one thing is fixed and everyone sits back. The good part is that since it is piece bu piece, the process of repair is dynamic.

It is your responsibility to choose. And whatever you choose, it is imperative that your elected officials know where you stand.

Right now I am still taking the lesser of two evils, but I am not far away from advocating collapse. I believe I am not alone in that mindset.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-05 13:00
Perfectly said.
+5 # beeyl 2012-03-04 18:19
This is exactly right. Corporatists - which means 100% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats - are the problem. Their agenda is fueled by limitless cash from "corporation-pe ople" and their lobbyists. Not only did this corporatism kill the public option (in both chambers of Congress and the White House), but it gave us the illegality of retroactive immunity for the telecoms, extended Bush Tax Cuts for the wealthy, and 93 Senators (what partisan gridlock!) shamefully voting for NDAA! In fact, the more shameful and unpopular the legislation, the more predictable it is that the corporatist supermajority governing us will work together to ram it down our throats.
+8 # seefeellove 2012-03-03 08:24
What would we do without labels? How would we see our government employees without the designated red for Republicans, blue for Democrats, green for the Green Party, and so on? How would we function without dichotomous thinking, or deception? Can you imagine a life without winners and losers?

The need to belong is quite strong and useful. Doesn't the uniform of a human body and our home on this planet meet our need to belong? I think it is difficult to get to our commonalities and celebrate diversity when we armor ourselves with labels. In a life without labels, maybe we'd be curious enough to really get to know each other.
0 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:16
Senator Snowe is an honourable woman within the limits established by the United States Senate and membership in the Republican Party.

I fear, however, that being upset by the manners and morals of her colleagues is less principled that taking effective action to change their behaviour. For example, she could have voted against the Republican filibuster.

It seems that she was mainly concerned to straighten the doilies in the grand dining room of the Titanic.
+140 # PABLO DIABLO 2012-03-02 14:02
Sen. Snowe,
I THANK YOU for your voice of reason.
-2 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:22
Yes, a plutocrat with a kindly demeanour ... how charming!
+72 # sean1303 2012-03-02 14:03
I never quite understood how the voters in Maine could fall for this "kinder, gentler" face of Republicanism for so long. Let us not forget that Snowe voted to put both Alito and Roberts on the Supreme court, and she also supports the death penalty and strongly supports the war on drugs and the United States embargo against Cuba. In the end, she and supposed fellow moderate Collins have helped their party to maintain an undeserved "inclusive" image. I would much rather have another George Mitchell in this seat!
+29 # Doctoretty 2012-03-02 15:07
She seems to me to be blaming the problems on the Democrats when she notes that only 25 Senators come from States that went for the presidential candidate of the opposing party. Therefore she reasons the 75% do not have the incentive to work across party lines. But if anything, we know that it is the opposing party that is the party of NO. What's so moderate about that?
+24 # Regina 2012-03-02 17:55
She's the one sane Republican who manages to vote Yes when it counts most. Unless Maine gets its act together and replaces her with a Democrat, the Greed Gang will be that much more entrenched.
0 # Pancho 2012-03-06 08:02
Although I agree with her concerns and applaud her courage, I think Snowe put her concept poorly, and disagree with her conclusion.

Seventeen of those states had split delegations, such as Nevada, so according to her theory, one assumes, those 34 Senators should have bipartisan incentive. Others had executives such as California, where voters went with Republican Schwartzenegger for seven years but have reelected its Democratic Senate delegation three times since 1992. What she was citing was the increasing "red state, blue state" divide, but her example was not the best.

She should know better. Her husband was the last Republican governor of Maine, leaving office seventeen years ago, until Maine voters took leave of their senses and elected perhaps the worst governor in the U.S. (Rick Scott in Florida may be even worse), Tea Partier Paul LePage, who has put the state in the toilet since 2011.

In some of those states, clearly there is a wide gulf in the politics of the delegation, for instance in Nevada, Florida and Massachusetts, the latter where Scott Brown briefly showed a little independence until he was trained to sit up and bark, though in response to the candidacy of Elizabeth Warren, he is now pretending he's not Mitch McConnell's lapdog.
+27 # steve98052 2012-03-02 18:37
Her record isn't flawless, but it's pretty darn respectable compared to the extremism that has become her party's mainstream.
+1 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:24
Yes, but the bar is set so low that it's barely worth measuring.

On the other hand, if the wealthy denizens of Downton Abbey need an elderly visitor from American to join the cast, she'd be a natural.
+2 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-03 16:55
I agree that what now supposedly constitutes a "moderate" would have been on the extreme edges of the map not that long ago.

However, although only a few Democrats voted for Alito, over half of them voted for Roberts.

A majority of Democrats in office also still oppose legalization of any drugs.
+24 # BobbyLip 2012-03-02 14:10
You forgot to mention, you old bipartisan you, that the GOP (greedy old pigs)is ten times more irresponsible than the Dems. If you weren't retiring, the Tea Party would boot you. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Have a nice retirement.
-41 # barkingcarpet 2012-03-02 14:22
Let Them eat Cake! No askewed oblique obtuse parallels between our messs or say the Roaming Empire, etc....? Nah, moo on buy, nothing to sea hear folks.
+76 # Robert B 2012-03-02 14:51
She's going to slink away to retirement rather than switch parties. Shoving it down their throat might make a difference. But remaining in the Republican Party after all they've done suggests complicity. I'm not much impressed with her statement. Just because the Republican Party is so nuts they make her look good in comparison doesn't translate into courage on her part. She could have done a lot better.
+71 # wfalco 2012-03-02 14:53
Ms. Snowe writes so kindly of the need for compromise in our alleged historically functional non-parliamenta ry system.
This smacks of insincerity and I will have to refrain from my initial gut feeling to like this "moderate" old soul.

The problems of polarized partisanship are so disproportionat ely the fault of Republicans that the article's intent appears disingenuous.
This dangerous ideology had been creaping along in the American psyche pre-Reagan. Then it started taking off with old Ronnie and they haven't looked back since. Compromise be damned!

Ms. Snowe is only rationalizing in the same way as the main stream news media.
There is no real "fair and balanced" in their portrayal of American politics. Ms. Snowe and MSN are attempting to "blame both sides" for dysfunctional Washington. The dangerous corporate extremists are predominatly represented by the Repugs. Everyone knows it. Of course the Dems have lacked courage. But never forget what they ar up against. The other side is so ruthless, corrupt, and criminal that one must borrow a bit from their tactics to compete.
+25 # Billy Bob 2012-03-02 18:34
Absolutely right. It's a false equivalency, and she knows it. If she doesn't want to be part of repug tactics she doesn't have to. She could run again as an independant.
+23 # wwway 2012-03-02 21:07
Dems have had to compromise just to stay in the game. As a result our country, which is dominatley liberal, has had to shift to the right. I used to say, "Republicans are bullies. Democrats are whimps." Democrats can only stand up and fight if the people will. I was so glad when folks in Wisconsin FINALLY make the first step. Obama can't wave a magic wand and make Washington change for work. He must have the majorities in the house and senate and the people didn't do that. Americans are fickle and easily manipulated by the right. They backed down on public option so Obama had to drop it. They voted for Tea Party in 2010. Well, it's true that the people get the government they deserve. So, if "the people" have buyers remorse then they better get up off their hands and get to work or we're all "goin'down!"
0 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:26
Republicans do evil deeds with glee. Democrats do evil things "with a heavy heart."

Still, it's a kind of difference, isn't it? Please! Tell me it's a difference ...
+2 # Billy Bob 2012-03-04 20:13
There's only one difference. It's not qualitative. It's quantitative. The Democratic Party has been hijacked by evil conservatism. The repug party didn't need to be hijacked. Individual members of the Democratic Party of guilty of evil deeds. The only difference is that they commit less of them.

To me, the "lesser of two evils" is still LESS evil.
0 # kyzipster 2012-03-04 22:18
Well said, Democrats are hard to defend at times but ultimately what goes on in Washington reflects the will of the voters. Well, at least they're always there threatening to give all power to the extremists in the GOP.
-33 # MidwestTom 2012-03-02 15:13
Ms. Snowe is truly an American Patriot, putting country above self , a rare quality in todays politicians. As the Federal government has tried to ever expand, it inevitably forces what are majorities opposed to same action of the government in one area of the country, to conform to the wishes of the majority in the whole country. This forces the elected politicians to defend the opposing views of their supporters, leading to bitter arguments. This was not the case thirty or forty years ago, because the country was more similar,and government was less intrusive. I am afraid that the divisiveness will only get worse. The NDAA bill is an attempt by the government to overwhelm and stay in control when the splits result in violent action; which it will unless the government backs off, which is unlikely. The splits in Washington are now manifesting themselves as Occupy, Militias, and Tea Party groups.
+37 # Billy Bob 2012-03-02 18:32
Thirty or forty years ago we had a LOT MORE government regulation. Much of the divisiveness you're refering to is the playing out of ronnie ray-gun's mantra to get government of the backs of big business. This repuglican strategy of making sure the government is incapable of helping anyone unless they don't need it has gained momentum since 1980. That is the complete cause for the divisiveness.

We have one party (Democratic) that traditionally stood for something. What it stood for has been demonized by right-wing hate media to the point that all conversation has broken down. Instead of sticking to its guns, the Democratic Party has chosen to cave-in in the hopes of appeasing the far right. This has backfired. In fact, it's just emboldened the looney right to become even more abrassive.

"Government is not the solution. Government is the problem".

That underhanded mantra has been a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No tommy, "government intrusion" is not the problem - unless you're refering to RIGHT-WING intrusions (i.e. NDAA, "patriot" Act, etc.). The problem is that the people who pretend they don't want government intrusion, really just want MORE government intrusion that exempts the rich and does NOTHING for the rest of us.
+12 # jon 2012-03-02 21:39
Billy Bob,

Perfectly stated!
+6 # Regina 2012-03-03 22:52
Don't forget the good ol' misogynist boys who think that poking a probe into a woman's vagina is a much more important government task than providing programs that lead to jobs.
0 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 12:27
You betcha!
+68 # BradFromSalem 2012-03-02 15:22
What she did not say is more important than what she did say.

In particular I point out her comments regarding voting along party lines. In the recent past the final tally was not always 99% along party lines. In fact today the Republicans vote 99.9% along party lines and the Dems are probably a more reasonable 90%. Also the switch votes were not always the same Senators.

It is very obvious that Sen Snowe was getting intense political pressure to fall in line. It is not an coincidence that she announced her retirement just before the vote for the Blunt amendment. Sen. Snowe was the lone Republican vote against.

There is no telling how often that pressure was put to her. The tactics probably ran the gamut of threatening her with a Tea Party challenge, the traditional pet project blackmail, and any other political threats they could muster.

As she notes, this is not the Senate the founders envisioned. A deliberative body so honor bound (I am not naive, I did not say honest) that even with a tool that can be used to alter democratic rule; it took over 100 years before a party decided to use that tool to destroy democracy. If the Senate were to have ended the filibuster entirely, the Sen. Snowe would not have felt the need to retire.

It is very sad when a Sen. retires because they no longer believe in the system, no matter what party they belong to.
+16 # ABen 2012-03-02 21:08
Thoughtful and well stated comment.
+1 # kelly 2012-03-02 23:56
My thoughts exactly LL.
+4 # dick 2012-03-02 15:23
I think the Senate has bigger problems with corruption & evil-insanity than with lack of compromise & bi-partisanship . Those terms were meant for a TOTALLY different set of circumstances. I'm glad Lincoln didn't compromise on preserving the union, & that Washington & Franklin did not seek bi-partisan agreement with the loyalists. I do not hope for compromise with the pathological. What Snowe really covets is genteel stability so she can enjoy her status, privileges, ILLUSIONS unruffled. No courage in that.
+21 # Billy Bob 2012-03-02 18:38
You're right. You can't comprimise with the looney right. It only emboldens them to act crazier.
+19 # jlthome 2012-03-02 15:30
This sickens me.... The U.S. Senate continues to lose moderate Senators on both sides and they are being replaced by those who should be embarrassed of how they follow a lock-step party line. Ted Kennedy was a person who could brings sides together; Byron Dorgon, the same, Kent Conrad is leaving this fall., and on and on. I'm not sure if I am more upset by those who throw in the towel or those who are taking their place.
+15 # Billy Bob 2012-03-02 19:14
It's just an ongoing trend. Patrick Moynihan was replaced by newt gingrich back in 1994. I know that's the House, but the same disease affects both houses of Congress.

Let's face it, you can't compromise with someone unwilling to compromise.

There's no such thing as unilateral compromise.

(I know those two sentences mean exactly the same thing, but it's such an important point that I thought it needed to be worded in whatever way cuts through.)

Right now, for the principles of moderation and comprimise to be brought back to the table, the Democratic Party is going to have to up the ante and prove that it can't be pushed around. That will put it in a position of authority - FORCING the hand of the other side to join in compromise out of self-interest.

We've seen this played out in a few circumstances recently. When the Democrats decide not to budge, the repugs will often change their tune and come to the table. If Democrats can't stand their ground, the repugs have absolutely no incentive to compromise.
+1 # kyzipster 2012-03-04 22:17
The Democrats have compromised the country far to the right in recent decades and the Republicans keep pushing. Democrats cannot budge any further, their constituents won't tolerate it.

I don't buy into this false equivalence that's so prevalent in the media. Republicans are responsible for the dysfunction in the Senate and Democrats get equal blame.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-05 13:03
Exactly. The Democratic Party is only responsible to those who elected them, and no one else. They need to stop trying to get right-wing votes, or they'll lose their support altogether.
+30 # szq5777 2012-03-02 15:30
Ms Snowe was a voice of reason. She is too moderate for the radical Repugs. The Republican Party has morphed into a vicious right-wing, extremly religious,talib an-like organization. They are trying to make the country into a Theocracy!The Tea Party has hijacked the House and is trying to! do the same in the Senate.
I am a Christian and Jesus is my Savior but I also believe in the Seperation of Church and State! The Repugs do not!
Snowe is leaving because she is disgusted with her party's hypocrisy and unwillingnes to compromise.
+1 # James Marcus 2012-03-02 15:35
The Entire Government is 'Broken', no longer representing 'We, The People'. In the Senate, my State Senator, Dan Inouye, was and is know as 'The King Of Pork' (most others now also vie for the Title).
What began as 'an innocuous trickle' (known as 'A wink and A Nod'), has now become an overwhelming Flood, of Institutionaliz ed Bribery, Theft, Pork (you name it!); A Consistent Constitutional Violation of the Most Egregious
sort. Murder and Mahem (as well as Grand Theft) ensue.
I, for one , will no longer vote to choose 'The Lesser of Evils', as there is no such thing. Voting is now strictly a 'Pacifying Charade', as virtually ALL CANDIDATES March to the Same Drummer.
Balance, 'Debate' and Choice.... is a Manipulated Charade.
+7 # Billy Bob 2012-03-02 18:24
How do you plan to fix it?
-3 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-03 16:23
OWS is a good vehicle for beginning the fix, in that it is a forum for initiating and maintaining a conversation about how we would like to see society and how we would like to get there.

Since this is a long-term solution, in the meantime, I agree with James Marcus about voting for the lesser of two evils – it’s worse than just treading water. Every time we’ve lost more ground in terms of freedom and opportunity.

Regarding the consequences of voting, say, for a third party candidate instead of one considered to be a front-runner, I agree with Walter Mosely (in his recent interview on Democracy Now! ) – We are the ones who make a difference, not the candidates. If we choose to sit back and let the relatively few people who are out on the streets continue to be the only ones to take action, then it might make a slight difference if Obama is elected over one of the front-runner Republicans, but if Americans create a mass movement, then it doesn’t matter who is elected. They will be forced to listen and respond.

I don’t consider voting for a man who regularly orders bombing that kill children (as well as sanctions that kill them more slowly) to be a “fix” for anything.
+3 # Billy Bob 2012-03-03 23:37
So, is it your hope that if we wait another 4 or 8 or 12 or 16 years, we might get someone worthy of our vote? Or do you plan to vote for someone in the meantime?

I don't entirely disagree with you. The problem is that a troll whose only objective is to get a repuglican elected in 2012 would use your exact words on these forums. The point wouldn't be to argue for repug word, but to argue in a conversation with a bunch of left-wingers against bothering to vote.

Personally, I have no problem with the left voting for a third party that truly represents the left. That would send the message you're looking for to the Democratic Party. Not voting at all will only send the message that you're either indifferent or that you care less about the results than the far right does, which only furthers the phony notion that this is a "center right" nation.
0 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-04 15:02
I don't think we should wait at all. I think we all need to push the candidates to take action that represents people, not corporations, to vote for the person each of us likes best, and then keep pushing whoever wins (whether or not it was the one we voted for) to represent us.

If there ever was a time when we could vote and be done with our democratic obligation, this isn't it.

Part of the reason Obama has 'disappointed' and been (reasonably) criticized is because his strongest supporters lumped together legitimate and bizarre criticism of him and decided he must be defended from all of it and be portrayed as blameless. The result was that the only real pressure on him was from those with the money. If we – as in a majority of Americans – refuse to push him hard to do the right thing, his actions will continue to benefit those who paid for his allegiance.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-04 20:15
Besides voting and protesting, what else do you propose?
0 # Stephanie Remington 2012-03-05 04:11
Talking to each other and building a movement large enough so that we can make demands that get taken seriously.
0 # Billy Bob 2012-03-05 13:04
We're on the same page. Forgive me for questioning your true loyalties.
+14 # Peace Anonymous 2012-03-02 15:39
Why do they all sugar coat it. Why do none of them ever step up to the plate and tell us the honest, unfettered truth?
+41 # jooberdoober 2012-03-02 15:45
I agree with what she said, but the fact of the matters is, Congress is not doing the the work of the people, but for the corporations. Capitalism without social responsibility is tantamount to fascism.
+15 # cordleycoit 2012-03-02 15:45
The psychopaths that run the country cannot have reasoned governance. Confusion is their tool to bring on the enslaving state we are in today. senators panicked by lobbyists yelling fire and War,War,War chants while the bankers spin the Wheel of Fortune to line their deep pockets is standard behavior. At the end of the day the Senators pick up the envelope stuffed with cash and go home. While across the world our client state loads up the Nukes to end the world as we know it. Go home senator and wash the blood off your hands. What you bring home Down East is what every traveler to elected office in Washington brings home, guilt.
+6 # minkdumink 2012-03-02 15:53
''and though the masters make the rules,for the wise men and the fools,I got nothing Ma,to live up to.''/Bob Dylan
+20 # Nancy C 2012-03-02 15:55
Her comments are valid and should be taken seriously and supported by the electorate in vigorous and loudly spoken demands to end the politics and return to governance! Aren't you tired of playing politics yet?! What's that old saw "be the change you want to see in the world" - quit bitching and push forward to rid our selves of the blockers and nuts...push for "courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-build ing"
+8 # ezdidit 2012-03-02 16:06
Respectfully, Senator Snowe, I appreciate your candor, but I don't believe you tell the whole story at all. Because of the Senate's abject failure, I believe that you would find it very hard to get re-elected. Moderates of both parties have lost their value, and this is not because the people have let you down. This is because the Senate has failed the people.
+4 # bugbuster 2012-03-02 16:26
I see no reason to doubt what some wise person said: "The people get the government they deserve."
-5 # historyguy 2012-03-02 16:35
No one seems to care that this woman has been in the Senate almost 18 years, and 40 years "in public service." It is time to retire and let someone younger guide the fortunes of Maine. The same goes for Dianne Feinstein in California who IS running for another term.
+8 # amye 2012-03-02 16:46
I am a democrat by heart, although this elected republican woman is the voice of sound reason. I have admired her often as she has taken on so much to be a good and honest legislator regardless of party. She has been a true example of what all legislators should be regardless of party! Thank you so much Ms. Olympia Snowe for your honesty, graciousness, and goodness!
+13 # Jane Gilgun 2012-03-02 17:39
I saw no anger and in her statement. I don't think she told the truth. I think she has different private opinions about the terrible deeds that the Republicans are perpetrating on millions of Americans and the very foundations of our country. I wish she would tell the truth in plain English.
+9 # Art947 2012-03-02 18:03
It is very strange that she does not note that for the past 3 years, she has almost always voted with her reactionary party members to maintain a fillibuster and prevent the confirmation of judges, or pass rational legislation -- no matter what the issue!

Sorry, Ms Snowe, you are also part of the problem -- not a solution seeker.
+8 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-03-02 20:52
When government is corrupted & ineducable, the sage retires into the mountains.
+11 # wwway 2012-03-02 20:58
It used to be that, like the framers of the constitution, all sides were commited to hammering out solutions. In recent years compromise has been expected of Democrats just to keep things going while Republicans dig in. No good has come from this. Lines must be drawn and action taken when the bully won't stop.
This issue over the first Amendment has been hyjacked and exaggerated by our spiritual leaders who absolutely will not acknowledge the debate our founding fathers had and who proposed that amendment. Delegates from the religious communities didn't want government to interfere with them. Likewise, the secular delegates wanted a government that was not bouncing back and forth between the Catholics and Protestants and didn't want religion involved in government. Soo... "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishing of religion or prevent the free exercise thereof."
The first amendment does not, even in the context of the contraception debate, mean that the religious community can demand that everyone adopt their own reproductive health policies and expect government to make it law. If you don't believe in contraception then you don't have to use it. There is no law saying that you HAVE to use it. NONE. The GOP and the religious zealouts of this country have trashed that first Amendment and dishonored our founding fathers settlement of the question.
+12 # ABen 2012-03-02 21:02
Olympia Snowe has always been a thoughtful, classy, old-school New England conservative. Being a Liberal, I often did not agree with her positions, but I rarely remember thinking her votes unprincipled. I suspect her estimation of McConnell and his employed tactics is quite low, but to explicitly say so would be beneath her. It should be noted that she did not inform Mr. No of her intention to resign; a clear sign of how little respect she has for the lead obstructionist. She is widely respected in Maine, and it will be interesting to see who voters select to fill her seat.
+10 # DaveM 2012-03-02 21:50
Legislators should vote on the issues, not by order of the party. Voters should do the same. If either does not occur, we end up with a government which operates not according to the desires of the electorate, but by the dictates of "the establishment". If we vote for the party rather than the candidate, we undermine the value of our votes. Remember, we DO have the power to vote those who do not represent us out of office. We must not hesitate to do so.
+6 # Anonymosource 2012-03-02 23:13
What a crick!! Snowe could have voted to break the Republican filibusters (which word doesn't appear in the US Constitution btw)any time during Obama's 1st two years in office. She didn't. She and the GOP gridlocked the progressives (illegally I think). If not for that we would be living in a different world today and the Tea-baggers might never have won Congress. Snowe was right at the center of it and she never stood up to break the gridlock. She's just another Mitch McConnell in my book. She voted against nearly every Democrats initiative lock-step with the rest. It's good she's gone.
+4 # Billy Bob 2012-03-03 12:27
You're right. She's not a "moderate". She just plays one on tv.
+4 # Anonymosource 2012-03-02 23:15
DaveM: The bugaboo (as you point out) is the politicians vote with the party because that's where they get their money to get elected.
+4 # Anonymosource 2012-03-02 23:17
She voted lock-step with the nazi-racists nearly every time.
0 # bracero 2012-03-03 01:06
This is one of the finest speeches I have
ever read and I am 78 years old. It readily spells out the tremendous problem our nation faces in our Congress. Yet due to the fact Reader Supported News prohibits followers from copying this speech for prosperity, it defeats RSN's intended purpose of informing the people. Reader Supported News should be ashamed of itself.
+8 # truthteller534 2012-03-03 02:22
The senator from Maine is correct in her opinion of the senate. Now ,sadly, it is made up of people of poor character who would sellout their constituents in favor of the banks and corporations who buy them body and soul.Shameless republicans who are ruining our country for a buck. No excuses for continuing the taxpayer subsidies to the rich oil companies. Right there, they show their true colors.It's up to the American people to get educated and stop voting against their interest,that's the real problem.
+2 # bobebray 2012-03-03 06:25
as long as the Whip tells the peeps how to vote the system is broken.the rep should vote for the voters that elected them.
+2 # RJB 2012-03-03 08:36
Question: Where is the seat of the American government?

Answer: It resides where the power elite meets. That may be where the Bilderbergs meet or the Trilaterals or the Council on Foreign Relations meets or in Davos or several other locations. These groups are comprised of the same few thousand folks from around the world. Read David Rothkopf's "Superclass."

These power brokers are not elected, but rest assured that they conduct a primary of their own to vet acceptable candidates to live in the White House. Their project is globalization. They have refined American institutions in order to serve that project.

The integrity that Olympia demonstrated could be tolerated because the elected toadies overwhelm the honest in both the Senate and the House. Privately financed elections insure this. Ms Snowe has finally had enough of this farce.

What to do? I think the first step is to verify that the above analysis is true. If It's false, then get all excited about the 2012 elections. If it's true, then take to the streets. There is the distinct possibility that Big Brother will come down hard on you, and that is scary. Look at Brady Manning.

Check out Chris Hedges' article titled "2011: A Brave New World" at
+8 # tswhiskers 2012-03-03 09:59
Thank you Ms. Snowe for trying to remind the U.S. government how it is supposed to function. I, like most politically aware Americans, have been disgustd with Congress since the '90's when the Reps. and their sympathizers spent fortunes to bring down Clinton. In the early '90's too, I considered myself a moderate Republican. In the ensuing years I have not changed the tenor of my politics but as the Reps have changed the tide of politics I now consider myself a liberal. It is not an overstatement to say that someone who voted for Ike in the '50's would today be considered a diehard liberal.
0 # kyzipster 2012-03-04 08:11
Mitch McConnell's strategy, enabled by abuse of the right to filibuster, of blocking any legislation that might make Obama and the Dems look successful is what's going on here. The dysfunction is in the Republican Party, not in the system. The incentive should be to govern, to represent the will of the people to the best of their ability which means compromise. Republicans are suffering greatly in this election year because of the dysfunction they bring to the Senate. Voters are sick of their lies and partisanship. The Dems aren't perfect but they're at least attempting to govern in a sane and realistic way.

"One difficulty in making the Senate work the way it was intended is that America's electorate is increasingly divided into red and blue states, with lawmakers representing just one color or the other. Before the 1994 election, 34 senators came from states that voted for a presidential nominee of the opposing party. That number has dropped to just 25 senators in 2012. The result is that there is no practical incentive for 75 percent of the senators to work across party lines."
0 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 11:23
The week may be remembered, in part, for the passing of two people: Senator Olympia Snowe and loudmouth bigot Andrew Breitbart. Senator Snowe, unlike Mr. Breitbart, did not die, of course; she is merely fading away. I shall judge her decision by its result. If she is replaced by a Democrat, I will tip my virtual hat; if she by a Republican (who will almost by definition be further to the right than she), I will curse her under my breath.

Senator Snowe says she is departing because of the viciousness of rhetoric and venality of purpose in the Senate. She is right that American politics has become more toxic than before, though I think she's confusing the symptoms with the disease. Still, it would be presumptuous to judge her. She was, within the boundaries of American political life, an honourable woman. She was also a Republican; so she supported domestic and foreign policies that were pathological and was wrong on about 80% to 90% of the issues upon which she voted.

Who knows? She might yet write an inspirational autobiography, or a revealing political memoir. Were she to support and encourage other women, she might even do more lasting good outside of government than inside. I wish her a long and useful life.
+1 # goodsensecynic 2012-03-04 11:29
As for Mr. Breitbart, he was the embodiment of everything Senator Snowe found objectionable in terms of decorum (though maybe not always in terms of substantive policies).

Already, I have heard noise from the political right that his death was a homicide, and they he was done in by nefarious thugs let loose by ACORN or the SEIU of even Predient Obama himself (as though the right needed to get even crazier).

This much I know. Senator Snowe will be remembered with a certain fondness and respect. Mr. Breitbart, like Mr. Beck, Mr. Hannity and Mr. Limbaugh, we sink in the muck and be forgotten, except as footnotes in the new history of the pathological right which, I am sorry to say, is ongoing.
0 # JKSB 2012-03-05 08:12
The extreme left and the extreme right are the very same person looking at each other face to face.

And frankly, I believe it has all been engineered to divert the focus of what is really happening.

So go ahead and argue people. While you are standing outside the chicken coup arguing about whether you should post an all DEMOCRAT or all GOP sign on the door, the fox is in the henhouse killing all the chickens and stealing the eggs.

Wake up! What you should be focusing on is the corruption in this system that is robbing the taxpayers blind.

It is happening before your eyes if you care to open them and really look behind the smoke screen.
0 # Justice for All 2012-03-05 10:42
The US has powerful enemys from within. Namely the Fed which is an international cartel of financiers. They call the shots because our reps have been bullied into submission. Yes, our nation has been co-opted by nasty men who are loyal only to the agenda of world conquest with them as global dictators. The polarization of our government serves to divide and conquer. Our nation has been conquered by people who don't mind how much humans suffer. We have allowed them to do this because they promise to protect us. Beware of strangers bearing gifts. We don't have to allow this to continue. All public servants would be more effective outside the corrupt District of Columbia. Please, Sen. Snowe, do what ever you can to educate the public, holding nothing back. Its the only chance we have.
0 # wolf8888 2012-03-05 11:15
Here we are loosing a Senator that followed reason and sometimes her heart, REJECTING the mindless voting along party lines, that is the root cause of our TOTALLy useless members of
both Democrats and Republicans congress and senators
0 # lark3650 2012-03-06 06:04
I think all the senators and congressmen should wear uniforms like NASCAR so we all know where there allegiance lies....maybe then, those who are not supporting special interests would stand up for what is right and just for the American people instead of cutting and running.

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.