I don’t know if I have heard a better reason for growing partisanship than that given by former Virginia Sen. John Warner.
Warner, a contemporary of President George H.W. Bush (41) was invited on a news program that aired around the time of the Bush funeral.
Most of the conversation centered on the wonderful eulogy provided by former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, whose quote, “Those who travel the high road of humility are not bothered by heavy traffic,” was among the best of the day.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney delivered a wonderful eulogy that centered on friendship. He quoted this Irish proverb, “There are good ships, and there are wood ships, The ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships, And may they always be."
Warner, who served in the U.S. Navy as World War II was winding down, was asked for his take on the increasing levels of partisanship.
His response caught my attention, so I did a little research. Warner said that when he served, and for generations before he served, there was a high percentage of senators and representatives who were veterans.
Warner said that it doesn’t matter which branch of the service they came from they all believed in “Duty, Honor and Country” before party, before self, before anything.
He surmised that veterans were more apt to be respectful of their fellow senators or representatives because respect was ingrained in them, and they were more apt to compromise because they knew the realities of war and the effects of an unwillingness to compromise where possible.
And he said finally, it is a matter of trust. He said a veteran is taught to trust the person beside them because that person may be the one who saves your life.
Warner stated, and I verified, that with each passing election, we have fewer veterans serving in Congress.
Not to say that people who don’t have military backgrounds can’t make good public servants, but perhaps veterans do have a unique perspective that is being diluted in Washington.
I have not been able to find the numbers from the recent election, but I do recall that many winners were veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
I appreciated Warner’s viewpoint, and I agree with it, but is it too much to expect all Americans to understand and live by the code of duty, honor and country?