Former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers has compared the petty political battles between the GOP and Democrats in Congress to "like being in the middle of the worst divorce you’ve ever seen."
In an opinion column for Politico magazine
, the recently retired chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee said that the constant feuding on Capitol Hill is having a detrimental effect on the nation.
Rogers said that he believed he had accomplished most of what he had set out to achieve during his 14 years in the House, including restoring order to intelligence oversight.
"I believe in this chamber and this institution more than when I started," he wrote. "And yet being in politics today often seems like being in the middle of the worst divorce you’ve ever seen, every day.
"The level of pettiness and small-minded meanness in political discourse is disheartening at best. It works against our national interests at its worst. It is hard to solve big issues with small politics."
The Michigan Republican recalled that the building literally moving when he was shaking hands with Democratic Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger after reaching his first deal on the Intelligence panel in 2011.
"It was the first authorization for the Intelligence budget in six years, and it was exactly at the same time an earthquake hit Washington, D.C.," he wrote.
"A Republican and a Democrat had agreed on a final product on what had been previously controversial legislation, and the ground shook. We made the usual jokes about divine approval, but that moment wasn’t lost on either of us.
"I hope it isn’t lost on the incoming 114th Congress as well. You can make progress on the issues you care about without sacrificing your principles."
Rogers, who won his first campaign by just 111 votes, also pointed out that since he entered Congress in 2001 politics has turned into a series of sound bites and tweets, while governance has taken a back seat.
"America is facing huge challenges. So is America’s political discourse. The 24-hour news cycle has become a 24-second news cycle. A member used to hope for a 15-second clip in a news story. Now it’s 140 characters in a tweet.
"And if you want someone to read it, best be clever. Newsworthiness comes second. The first one out there on a topic wins, and accuracy is an afterthought, if a thought at all.
"Nothing has made me appreciate real journalists more than anonymous bloggers and partisan tweets."
Rogers, 51, added, "It is amazing any congressional office gets anything done. It takes an enormous amount of time trying to correct the record. It all takes away from the time a member needs to spend getting smart on issues that matter. The only way to do that is read, question and dive deep into all of the often unsexy issues of legislating.
"I’ve gotten into trouble with my fellow conservatives for saying this — after all, our party believes, often justifiably, that Washington is usually the problem — but I do think elected officials need to devote more time here on Capitol Hill engaging in governance.
"It won’t get you on the 11 o’clock news, but it will make for a better-functioning legislature."
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