Thursday in Phoenix, AZ at the memorial for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) former Vice President Joe Biden said in the mid-1990s, partisanship in politics began to go “downhill,” resulting in today where “all we do” is “attack” the motive of the opposition.
Biden said, “John understood that America was first and foremost, an idea. Audacious and risky, organized around not tribe but ideals.”
He continued, “We both loved the Senate, proudest years of my life were being a United States senator. I was honored to be a United States senator. We both lamented, watching it change. During the long debates in the ’80s and ’90s, I would go sit next to John next to his seat, or he would come on the Democratic side and sit next to me. I’m not joking. We’d sit there and talk to each other.”
He added, “It was ’96, about to go to the caucus. We both went into our caucus, and coincidentally, we were approached by our caucus leaders with the same thing. ‘Joe, it doesn’t look good, you sitting next to John all the time.’ I swear to God. The same thing was said to John in his caucus. That’s when things began to change for the worse in America in the Senate. That’s when it changed. What happened was, at those times, it was always appropriate to challenge another senator’s judgment, but never appropriate to challenge their motive. When you challenge their motive, it’s impossible to get to go. If I say you are doing this because you are being paid off or you are doing it because you are not a good Christian or this, that, or the other thing, it’s impossible to reach consensus. Think about in your personal lives, all we do today is attack the oppositions of both parties, their motives, not the substance of their argument. This was the mid-’90s. It began to go downhill from there. The last day John was on the Senate floor, what was he fighting to do? He was fighting to restore what you call regular order. Just have us treat one another again like we used to.”
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