U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1955. He was there for major congressional actions, from the passage of Medicare and Medicaid to the Civil Rights Act. He knows a thing or two about this country’s history — and the Congress that helps shape that history.
Now, at the age of 87, this longest-serving lawmaker in the nation’s history has announced that he will not seek re-election. In publicly reflecting on his thoughts about the legislative branch of our federal government, the World War II veteran didn’t mince words.
“This Congress has been a great disappointment to everyone, members, media, citizens and our country,” he said. He went on to use words including “acrimony,” “bitterness” and “obnoxious” to describe what he has seen emerge in Washington.
To many Americans, that likely sounds about right. People are tired of lawmakers who stonewall progress to satisfy fringe groups or waste time repeatedly pushing legislation that will go nowhere. While we want representatives to serve the country, we are frequently left with the impression that they are in Washington to serve themselves and their parties.
Like Dingell, many Americans hope elected officials can finally “understand that we are all in this together.” That would be a refreshing change and would be the first step toward legislative initiatives that actually make the nation a better place.
— THE DES MOINES REGISTER