Tips, Videos, Handouts

Angus King Goes to Washington

Senator Angus King with Dana Freshley and Sara Freshley on Election Night, November 6, 2012.
Senator Angus King with Dana Freshley and Sara Freshley on Election Night, November 6, 2012

Angus King was just sworn into the United States Senate. Yeah Angus! He served as Maine’s Governor for 8 years and he is a fellow resident of Brunswick, Maine.

He told Tom Brokaw of NBC news while strolling around Brunswick — just Angus, Mary and Tom strolling the streets — that he hoped to go down to Washington and “nudge the system.”

Senator Angus King is particularly vocal about fixing the rules of the Senate that currently allow a minority to significantly impede progress. Perhaps he will join with Senators John McCain and Carl Levin who just last week unveiled their bi-partisan plan to change the filibuster rules of the Senate and other measures to make it run more smoothly.

At a time of calls to reform the rules of the Senate and calls to “reach across the aisle,” Angus King heads to Washington. He is an expert on both. And passionate.

Here is Tom Brokaw’s 3-Minute Interview with Angus King. In this interview Senator King discusses the importance of relationships. He remembers how the Senate worked 40 years ago when he was an aide to Senator Hathaway and how the Senators knew each other’s families.

“You can’t hate somebody if you know the names of their kids,” King said to Tom Brokaw in this other 3-minute interview.

Senator King wants to foster genuine relationships and help our federal government make good group decisions.

Go Angus!

For more on these topics check out my Good Group Tips Rules and Relationships and A Way to Talk.

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8 thoughts on “Angus King Goes to Washington

  1. Responding to the anonymous post above…….

    Thank you for writing. Among many good points, two stand out: one about the right pace of decision making and another about my use of this Blog and the corresponding e-mail list. Both excellent points.

    Regarding the pace of decision making, perhaps we simply disagree. I think the pace can be quickened a bit. I think it would work well for the Senate to dramatically increase it’s pace of voting but on much smaller packages. Currently, it’s too hard to bring something to a vote. I applaud King for pushing Senators to confront and make hard votes. I also applaud him on his desire to build relationships among Senators; real relationships among decision makers.

    Regarding the use of this blog and related list, yes, you caught me. Twice I have sent editorial-type blog posts to the list of people who signed up for Good Group Tips. In this case, as in the first one on youth voting, I have tried to discuss an aspect of decision making process and relate it to one or more of my Good Group Tips. This is new for me, trying to relate my Tips to current events. I do not intend to be partisan or political, but rather offer an opinion or two from a group decision making perspective.

    Frankly, I have been wondering how readers like this approach so your feedback is very helpful.

    Other readers? Would you like me to offer more blog posts that try to relate my Good Group Tips to current events, even at the risk of coming across as non-partisan or unprofessional?

  2. CRAIG: I have to respectfully disagree with your take (and Angus’ position) on “reforming” the Senate’s filibuster rules that have existed for over 180 years. While you apparently disagree with the positions of the current Senate minority (and, thus, wish to deprive it of the power to filibuster), I’d suggest that this is an instance where you should be be careful what you wish for. For example, when the current Senate minority was the Senate majority, just a few years ago, consider how you would have felt if they could have enforced their will without meaningful resistance from an opposition empowered with the right to filibuster.

    The US Senate likes to regard itself as the world’s greatest deliberative body and, for nearly two centuries, the filibuster has been one of its tools to ensure that there is actually deliberation and compromise, rather than a “tyranny of the majority.” John Adams, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill – and even Plato and Aristotle – all warned against the dangers of an unchecked tyranny of the majority. And, of course, the purpose of much of our Bill of Rights was to protect the rights of the minority, particular when it is unpopular.

    In an era where we are already witnessing the dismaying practice of Congress passing two thousand page bills and fiscal cliff deals without even reading them, I don’t think anything that further accelerates legislative decision-making can possibly be in our shared national interest – regardless of our individual political views.

    Finally, I would note that I find it inappropriate and unprofessional that you’re advocating a political position to an email list of folks who subscribed because of their regard for your skills as a facilitator, as well as for your insights and wisdom on improving group decision making processes and outcomes. None of us subscribed because we were interested in your views on political issues of the day; as you’ve observed in at least one of your GGD emails: sometimes silence is the best contribution one can make to the group.

    Thank you for your consideration.

  3. thanks Craig!! and you’re right…Go Angus! One drop in the big bucket of change that is needed in the political workings of this country.

  4. Thanks so much for writing, Fred. No, I did not know that the McCain-Levin fix is a sham. I don’t advocate for keeping the gridlock in place. So who is working on “the real filibuster reform efforts” and where can I learn more?

  5. I certainly hope that the Senator is paying more attention than you are, Craig–the McCain-Levin “fix” is a sham that will effectively change nothing and is merely designed to derail the real filibuster reform efforts that are close to success. Shame on you for essentially advocating to keep the current filibuster and gridlock in place!

  6. Senator Angus King was on Meet the Press yesterday. Click here for the video. He took his argument against inefficient government further by saying that the inability of the federal congress to make swift decisions is actually a drag on the economy. If you want economic growth, he argues, improve the efficiency and predictability of government decision making. Yes!
    Regarding the current haggle over the federal budget and debt ceiling, Senator King reminded us of the movie Lincoln. “We’ve all seen Lincoln,” he said. Paraphrasing King’s words; “Lincoln got his hands dirty with negotiating the terms of the 13th amendment. I think this President should get his hands dirty, convene a group of key people, take ’em up to Camp David, lock the door, and get the deal done.”
    Our own Senator Angus King is participating in some really neat conversations. And he is saying the right things!

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