Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana lost his Republican primary yesterday to Tea Party backed conservative Richard Mourdock, after more than 35 years in the Senate. The defeat of this statesman is not just a defeat for Lugar and his supporters, but a defeat for American national security and indeed the entire world. In the words of fellow Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Senator John Kerry, "It will soon almost sound cliché to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar's 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating."
Lugar's challenger, Richard Mourdock, said in his victory speech, that his campaign was about ideas for the future of both the Republican Party and our nation as a whole. Unfortunately, Mourdock's win is part of a disturbing pattern of election victories for Tea Party ideas, of unilateralists over more moderate, internationally minded Republicans.
Partisanship used to end at our nations shores. Now, partisanship permeates Capitol Hill like a festering disease. It has become increasingly more difficult for non-partisan organizations, like Citizens for Global Solutions, to find partners on both sides of the aisle who understand that international cooperation is essential to build a safer and more secure world. In our latest Congressional Report Card, House and Senate Democrats averaged an A-, while House Republicans averaged a D-. Senate Republicans fared worse than their House colleagues with an F. This is because we have lost internationally minded GOP friends like Lugar, Mike Castle, Jim Leach, Chuck Hagel and retiring Senator Olympia Snow.
When political parties refuse to work together and compromise, it is impossible to have a strong and clear vision on foreign policy and national security, endangering our nation's safety. We're skating on thin ice.
As evidenced by our Congressional Report Card grades, the blame for increasing partisanship falls almost entirely on the Republican Party. In the Washington Post, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution and Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute writes, the "GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."
This is a time of many trials for our nation, as we move to address critical issues such as climate change and sustainability, the potential of a nuclear Iran, and the need to protect human rights in situations like the ongoing crisis in Syria. We need to work with our international partners, both other nations and international institutions like the United Nations, to find global solutions to the challenges that no nation can solve alone.
The defeat for Senator Lugar, at the hands of a man who would decrease American engagement with the U.N. and other international institutions, is a warning signal to all who still believe in American leadership. Now is not the time to withdraw and disengage from the world. Rather, it is a time to renew the spirit of American innovation and leadership.
While Citizens for Global Solutions will remain a nonpartisan organization, the unfortunate reality is that it is becoming extremely difficult to identify GOP partners. This lack of cooperation is a stain on American leadership, presenting a confused and chaotic front to the world.
It's time for the American public to move beyond petty partisan politics and support a cooperative and responsible American role in the world. What's to be done? Defeat isolationists at the polls. Mourdock wants to base his campaign on his ideas for the future of America. Let's show him that we don't share his concept of the future. A severe thumping in general and primary contests of politicians who do not support this vision is the only way to get the attention of lawmakers. It is time for the U.S. to once again speak with one voice to the world.