Sen. Mikulski and women senators lead the call for civility
We can joke that C-SPAN often delivers more enthralling and bitter head-to-head match-ups than ESPN’s football games or HBO’s action flicks. Deep in the Senate’s history, you will find stories of physical and plenty of off-color language in heated debates. But, over the last 25 years, there’s been one woman who believes we can do better and be better examples. Under the leadership of their "Dean," Senator Barbara Mikulski, 17 women senators model a level of civility we think will benefit our nation's legislature.
Adopting Mikulski's personal philosophy, the women of the Senate have forged their own "informal nonaggression pact," a product of their personal relationships fostered over dinners, fundraisers, committee hearings, and co-sponsored legislation. As Erika Lovely writes in yesterday's POLITICO, the women of the Senate bring a different perspective to our national politics:
In the male-dominated, tradition-bound Senate chamber, their desire to recapture a long lost sense of civility trumps the constant pressure to score partisan points. It's a bond forged by their common experience as women in the highest level of American politics, reinforced during a regular dinner meeting led by the longest-serving female senator, Barbara Mikulski.
Mikulski started organizing casual events where the women could get together with "no staff, no memos, no leaks and no men" several years ago, in cooperation with her colleague (and fellow EMILY's List candidate) Sen. Claire McCaskill. Through their meetings and friendships, they have cultivated a space where the women of the Senate feel comfortable debating issues despite difference of opinion. They may not always agree on the policy choices, but their respect for a civil political discourse manifests on the Senate floor and even on the Sunday shows.
What Sen. Mikulski and her colleagues show us is that their bond as women, as public servants, comes before partisan games -– and that civil discourse benefits all who participate.
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