MASON, W.Va. – Speaking at Wahama High School in Mason, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) Tuesday commemorated Constitution Day by focusing students’ attention on the virtues of civility and compromise in our political system.
“In this time of heated partisanship and seemingly intractable political issues, when the long-term interests of the Nation seem to be subjugated to the politics of the moment, Constitution Day reaffirms the spirit of compromise and the blessings of national unity embodied in our national framework,” said Rahall.
Rahall noted the budget debate gearing up in Washington and that some Members of Congress have threatened to shut down the Federal government unless their tax and spending priorities are adopted. He said such individuals are at odds with the Framers who sought consensus and the middle ground that allowed the American experiment in democratic government to move forward.
“The individuals of our own time, on both sides of the political spectrum, demanding their way on issues with threats of government shutdowns and defaulting on our national debt would be recognizable to the Framers in their time. They too lived in a supercharged political atmosphere. They too had to grapple with their own passions and prejudices and reconcile the national interest with legislative gridlock, filibusters, delays, all the enemies of progress.
“That is why their counsel is so important and instructive to us today. Had vital compromises not occurred, and had the delegates not been willing to doubt their own infallible opinions, there is little dispute that the Convention would have failed and the United States may have broken apart in its infancy,” said Rahall.
Rahall said that the genius of the U.S. governmental system is that power is not concentrated in one individual or even one institution. He noted the role of Members of Congress to check the actions of the Executive.
“I take very seriously my oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I believe in the vision of the Framers of our Constitution and exercise the responsibility placed in the Members of Congress to serve as a check on the Executive Branch — for both Republican and Democratic administrations,” said Rahall.
Invoking Benjamin Franklin’s closing words to the Constitutional Convention Delegates, Rahall said, “I would hope that every Member of Congress, and the President, doubts a little of their own infallibility, and follows the example of our Framers to achieve great things for this Nation. The welfare of the people ought to outweigh partisan ideology.”