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When Dingell was recently asked in an ABC News interview about the biggest changes in Congress since he was first elected in 1955 to succeed his father, he did not hesitate to respond: “Lack of collegiality, refusal to compromise, an absolute reluctance to work together, and I think, a total loss of understanding of the traditions.”
He went on to lament that “compromise has become a dirty word, and this is a great shame. The founding fathers intended something quite different.”
How then, he was asked, do you keep your sense of mission today?
“You’ve got to love the job, love the country, and have goals and purposes and hopes,” he replied, “and you’ve got to have a closeness with the people and understand what their hopes and dreams and desires are.”
His constituents, the Congress and the country are the better for his service in the House these past 57-plus years. We could use a few dozen more like him in both parties who understand the meaning of governance and how it is done.
Don Wolfensberger is a resident scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center and former staff director of the House Rules.