Since 2012, Americans’ approval of their Congress has fallen to levels not seen in modern times. No longer does the average citizen believe that his children will live a life better than he has.

What happened? The election of a class of far-right Republicans running in gerrymandered districts, coupled with the current House Speaker’s commitment to the unconstitutional “Hastert rule,” has allowed this anti-government minority to distort the character of the Grand Old Party, render its moderate members powerless and bring the normal functioning of the entire government to a virtual standstill.

In the last few years, the United States has been incapable of addressing taxation, immigration, or repair of the nation’s (and Maine’s) roads, bridges and airports. The average person, like me, grinds his teeth in frustration. So what’s the answer? I have a modest proposal.

Voters naturally drawn to the moderate wing of the Republican Party should join the Democratic Party — which over the years has become, by default, the party of the center. Current moderate Republican members of Congress should declare their conscience — as our own great Sen. Margaret Chase Smith once did against fanaticism — and transfer their party affiliation.

What would this accomplish? First, these moderates, currently powerless in their own party, could pursue their natural instincts for constructive compromise and assure passage of stalled legislation. Second, their presence in the Democratic Party would move it even nearer to the country’s political center, where the vast majority of citizens sit.

The far right wing would be neutralized, allowing the rest of the country to live with a functioning government.

And approval ratings of Congress would skyrocket.

Dennis J. Perkins


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