October 4th, 2010
04:29 PM ET
4 years ago

Former lawmakers to Congress: play nice

Washington (CNN) – In the midst of a bitter and brutal election season, bipartisanship among candidates for Congress is highly unlikely.

But that is exactly what a bipartisan group of more than 130 former lawmakers are asking for in a letter sent to all Senate and House members running for reelection and their opponents.


In the letter, the former members of Congress acknowledge the advantages of partisanship, but say members of the opposing party are not "the enemy."

"None of us shrank from partisan debates while in Congress or from the partisan contests getting there," the letter reads.

"During our time in Congress, partisans on the other side may have been our opponents on some bills and our adversaries on some issues. They were not, however, the enemy."

"Congress appears gripped by zero-sum game partisanship. The goal often seems to be more to devastate the other side (the enemy, no longer the honorable adversary) than to find common ground to solve problems, much less to have a spirited but civil debate about how to do so."

"Lawmakers who try to address problems and find workable solutions across party lines find themselves denigrated by an angry fringe of partisans, people unhappy that their representatives would even deign to work with the enemy. When bipartisan ideas are advanced, they are met by partisan derision."

Addressing the election season, the former members ask candidates to conduct their campaigns "with decency and respect" and 'to refrain from personal attack[s]" towards the opposition.

The letter was sent by the group Former Members of Congress for Common Ground which was organized by former Congressmen John Porter (R-Illinois) and David Skaggs (D-Colorado).

See the full letter and signatures here.

–CNN Congressional Correspondent Brianna Keilar contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2010 • Congress
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Bud

    The problem with Americans nowadays–including politicians–is they don't know that the handshake is stronger than the fist.

    October 4, 2010 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. a in austin

    I agree with this 100%. It is not "us" against "them". It is "We the People". NO ONE should hold us hostage while playing "games" with each other. There are so many problems in OUR country and in order to correct things it will take BOTH parties. Our politicians are acting out on the playground! And, in doing so, are holding the AMERICAN people hostage.

    October 4, 2010 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. 29 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    Since 2000 when George Bush WON, the looney left and most DemocRATS have been spewing their vitriol non-stop over the airwaves and on the web. Bush and Cheney stole the election, Bush and Cheney are war criminals, bush and Cheney drove the country into a ditch (funny how the properity from 2003-2007 just disappeared in their defective minds).

    Now it's their turn to hear it because Obozo and his leftist band have driven the car out of the ditch and straight over a cliff. They have shown the American people what their true agenda is, endless entitlement programs and wealth redistribution. And the majority of America REJECTS this insanity but they REFUSE TO LISTEN. Yes, they know better what is good for us.

    BYE BYE DemocRATS. in 29 days our long national nightmare will end when we send you packing.

    October 4, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. stufthis

    Evidently Scott and Rubio in Florida, did not get the memo.

    October 4, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Daniel

    Good luck with this. The reactionaries, not the moderates, seem to have the upper hand in this off-year election.

    October 4, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. stufthis

    As long as Coburn and DeMint put a hold on everything in the senate, there will be little debate, and fewer votes.

    October 4, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. BestProfitBusiness = WAR

    THis letter needed to go to the Rethuglicans only since they are to stubborn to agree with anything. Plus it was their strategy not to cooperate and make America more unstable so they can go back to power... bastards!

    October 4, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  8. Big Day

    I wish! The party of "No" has been adversarial from the moment they lost. From the presidentcy to the House & Senate. They have not reached across the aisle EVER in any kind of constructive way to help America get out of its decline. If we think it's bad now?...put them back in power so they finish the job of George W. Bush.

    October 4, 2010 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. CaliforniaBC

    Here is the beginning of the moderate 3rd Party which we SOOOOOOoooooo sorely need.

    October 4, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. colinsux

    Politicians will say anything to get back in power, and people eat it up like a stoner eats cheetos. I'm not saying either side is correct, but look at how the Republicans have changed in the past two years. They used to practice this idea of "honorable adversaries" and now they go out on the attack and call the President a "kenyan tribesman" and scare the living hell out of people saying he's setting up a fascist nation. They talk about how small government and individual rights have always been their ideals. Not true, the creation of Homeland Security and the new authority to wiretap everyone's phone are proof. They started having these ideals because of the Tea Party. They know the Tea Party is energized enough to vote, so they just tell them what they want to hear. The truth is that Tea Partiers, with all due respect, are a bunch of old, rich, white people. The only reason they're energized is because a black liberal was elected as President, something they've never experienced. They don't really want to change America, they just hate Obama. Remember when Joe Barton apologized to BP? He basically commited career suicide just to attack the President. How could he get away with apologizing to a company whose negligance single handedly cause the worst environmental disaster in history? Because people hate the President. For God's sake people, let's get back to reality, stop all of the hyperbole, and move forward as a nation.

    Oh, and legalize marijuana.

    October 4, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Phillipe

    It's sad but seemingly true that the two American political parties new see themselves as enemies, not as custodians of our country. Plus the Tea Party has added hate and bigotry into the mix. "United we stand; divided we fall." has long ago been forgotten. What once made America great is now being lost due to misguided righteousness and adversarilism–the politics of children.

    October 4, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  12. LacrosseMom(the real one)

    One more thing. Joe Miller, Tea Party candidate for Alaska's Senate seat calls "Minimum Wage unconstitutional"! Who wants to tell hard working Minimum Wage workers that their fair wage, which they can barely live on is unconstitutional!

    Honestly, America, PLEASE pay attention to what the GOP-baggers want to do! God help us!

    October 4, 2010 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. ABM

    And this is coming out NOW?????? What the heck is wrong with this picture? This message should not have been necessary but it was the Republicants who decided to create this cesspool of a divide. I would say there should be more done to quell the bad tempers, partisan nastiness, etc. but who am I kidding. We elect "children" to such lofty positions. They should hold themselves to a higher standing – once again who am I kidding.

    October 4, 2010 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |