We already have seen signs that party leaders will go to their bases in selecting the participants of the super committee — people who are hidebound to their ideological beliefs, loyal to the party line, politically unwilling or unable to cross the aisle for a common-sense solution. My prediction, if this is the decision by the leadership, is that this effort will be in vain and we all lose.
It doesn’t have to be that way. The super committee does not have to result in an ideological standoff that will bankrupt our great country and only serve to waste America’s time and patience, leading to future angst in an already unsettled market.
We have dire problems to solve, and we will know how serious our leaders are about solving them when we see whom they appoint to tackle the deficit.
Our legislative leaders should take this crucial opportunity to throw partisanship out the window and appoint those in the sensible center to the super committee.
Qualified Members should have a track record of bipartisanship, be devoid of ideological and inflammatory rancor, and be willing to roll their sleeves up and take some big risks, trusting that the legacy of their Congressional service will be the return to black ink on our federal balance sheet.
If one does not believe in principled compromise, then how can one believe in democracy and freedom? Only in a dictatorship does one have his own way 100 percent of the time. That’s not a country where I or any American I know would want to live. For all of us, and those who will follow, let us look for a way to say “yes.”
Former Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) served in the House from 1989 to 2011. He is a member of the Blue Dog Research Forum board and vice chairman of the Prime Policy Group.