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How to fix the American political system from within

The Seattle Times

Saturday, November 8, 2014

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Olympia Snowe is no quitter.

The former Republican U.S. senator from Maine, known as much for her pragmatic grace as her stiff backbone, disappointed many when she decided in 2012 not to run for a fourth term. Her political moderation was what Congress needed more of.

But Snowe, who never lost an election in 35 years running for office, wasn’t quitting. She was taking her fight to a higher authority — the people of the United States…

Snowe was in Seattle Thursday for a speech at the University of Washington Graduate School lecture series. Her book, “Fighting for Common Ground: How We Can Fix the Stalemate in Congress,” was published earlier this year.

For 18 months, she was a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Commission on Political Reform with two former U.S. Senate majority leaders, Republican Trent Lott from Mississippi and Democrat Tom Daschle from South Dakota. In June, the group published several recommendations for improving the U.S. political system so it once again serves the American people with vetted, vigorously debated solutions.

I asked Snowe what top three things could make a difference: Within Congress, she’d like to see institutional rule changes, such as syncing up the House and Senate schedules; more bipartisan and bicameral meetings; and filibuster reform that would prohibit filibustering of whether a bill could even be brought up for consideration. “Allow the conversation to happen instead of to be stopped,” she said.

Outside Congress, redistricting reform would reintroduce competitiveness in more districts around the country. She also likes the idea of open primaries.