Ex-Congress Members Urge Present Ones To Behave Better

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U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) speaks from NPR's Washington, D.C. studios during the Sept. 29 KPCC debate with Republican opponent Carly Fiorina. This was their second debate.

Some ex-members of Congress have asked current members to be less divisively partisan. The group, Former Members of Congress for Common Ground, takes present members to task. But the realities are that most lawmakers come from partisan districts.

A group of former Capitol Hill lawmakers is hoping to shame current members of Congress into behaving better in their campaigns, according to a report in Politico:

The report says that more than 130 former lawmakers calling themselves Former Members of Congress for Common Ground have signed a letter asking current lawmakers to cease and desist from partisan sniping and overheated campaign attacks.

Politico reports:

Congress “appears gripped by zero-sum game partisanship,” in which the goal often seems to be more to devastate the other side ... than to find common ground to solve problems,” they wrote.

It is a pointed message from some experts who know the territory and want everybody to get along better.

They urge current members to show “decency and respect toward opponents” and engage in truthfulness and good-faith debate and end personal attacks — in both campaigns and their legislative work.

It's noteworthy that it's group of ex-lawmakers, not present lawmakers asking current members to tone down their partisan attacks.

Don't hold your breath for current members to change their mostly take-no-prisoners approach to campaigning and running Congress.

The majority of seats in the House are safe seats for either party, meaning their districts are more partisan to the right or left. The districts were drawn this way to maximize the power of both parties.

So the members from districts that tend to be more ideological one way or another don't lose anything by being partisan warriors and, arguably, might lose more if they weren't since it would almost invite constant primary challenges.

So there are reasons why the letter from ex-members will likely fall on deaf ears. Copyright 2010 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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