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Spring is a time of metaphors. Leaving the dark days of winter, new growth in plants, calves born on farms; it is a time of renewal.
Hope springs eternal.
In that vein, there were signs of hope in Washington this week. Maybe our dark political winter is giving way to a thaw and brighter days.
We “sprung forward” last weekend, abandoning an hour of sleep in order to have more daylight later. This week, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio received unanimous consent from the United States Senate to jettison the biannual changing of the clocks.
When was the last time you saw a headline that contained both “unanimous” and “Senate?”
In the grand scheme of world affairs, America’s timekeeping is a relatively minor footnote. And “the science” says the Senate is doing it wrong; we should look to have year-round standard time (i.e. the “fall back”) rather than permanently “springing ahead.”
Nonetheless, it is an example of Washington working together.
The Senate offered another example this past Tuesday, declaring Russian “President” Vladimir Putin a war criminal via unanimous consent.
One step at a time.
Others have written about our nation’s two decade long failure to deal with the former KGB agent. George W. Bush famously talked about seeing into Putin’s “soul.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a large, red button as half-joke, half-symbol, meaning for it to represent a “reset” in Russian-U.S. relations.
The cyrillic actually read “overcharge.”
Barack Obama whispered to Dimitry Medvedev – on a hot mic – that he would have “more flexibility” after his re-election. Medvedev promised to inform Vladimir. Obama then went on to mock Mitt Romney for claiming that Russia was our primary geopolitical adversary.
Like Bush, Clinton, and Obama, Donald Trump had a long history of saying nice things about Putin prior to his election. Our elected officials’ Russian rapprochement was complex, to say the least.
But now, with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States is nearly united in opposition to his misadventure. Russia’s attempts to divide us – both real and suspected – have fallen sharply with sanctions.
It is easy to rally against unfettered Russian aggression. Rarely are the moral lines of conflicts so clear.
Yet spring is a time of renewal. America has lacked an agreed-upon adversary since the Soviet Union fell and Putin began his path to power. We turned inward and against each other.
But in the 1980s, Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan were fierce political opponents. Yet, when the time came to do something for the good of the nation, they put their differences aside to move things forward. Neither let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
After the Soviets invaded their neighbor Afghanistan, O’Neill gave a quiet nod to Democratic Rep. Charlie Wilson’s support of the Reagan Administration’s efforts.
Maybe unity against Russia and clock changing can be the start of new growth in Washington. Both are pretty easy wins. But success can beget success. If they take the next step and pass a budget instead of a “continuing resolution,” things can get to work.
They can hold hearings on President Joe Biden’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. She seems well qualified for the job. Maybe hoping for a 98-0 vote like Antonin Scalia or 96-3 vote like Ruth Bader Ginsberg is too much of a dream, but a 78-22 vote (John Roberts) or a 68-31 vote (Sonia Sotomayor) seems within reach.
The Greek myth of Pandora was the origin story for the evils which exist in our world. Her curiosity led her to ignore the words of caution and open the container. Evil sprung forward.
But she managed to close it before everything got away. The last thing that remained? Hope.
So with the Senate unanimously agreeing to stop playing with our clock settings and rallying against Russian aggression, Washington proved that they can, in fact, come together.
Hope springs eternal.