At the end of a television interview shortly after her re-election on Nov. 6, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., had some words of wisdom for her colleagues in Congress:
“Courage in the next few years is not going to be just standing by yourself giving some speech on the left or the right. Courage is going to be whether you’re willing to stand next to someone you don’t always agree with for the betterment of this country.”
That was the message she had heard across Minnesota, Klobuchar said, and a dominant message throughout the country in the recent election.
It should go without saying that the top priority for any elected official is to do what is best for his or her city, state or nation. That sentiment was clear among a generation of federal lawmakers such as Howard Baker, George McGovern, Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, all of whom knew how to work across the aisle, compromise and move the country forward.
Speaking of Kassebaum, she might be pleased at the number of women she would find in the U.S. Senate next year if she came back for a visit. There currently are 17 women in the U.S. Senate, which was a record number. When the Senate convenes again in January, it will set another record with 20 women on its roster, a fifth of that body.
That number also had caught Klobuchar’s attention. She noted in her interview that the women in the Senate meet monthly for dinner and already are “a cordial bunch across party lines.” She also speculated that in an extremely polarized election season some voters may have “wanted to see more problem-solvers” and “women tend to be problem-solvers.”
Women obviously are not the only people who can solve problems, and the federal government certainly needs all of the problem-solvers and bridge-builders it can muster in the months and years ahead. Sen. Klobuchar’s definition of legislative courage is something every man and woman in government should take to heart. The true mark of courage in Congress today is putting the interests of the county ahead of partisanship.