Collins presents International Lecture at Colby College

Delivering the 2015 Senator George J. Mitchell International Lecture April 10 at Colby College, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) presented her address titled “Bipartisanship and Moderation: The Formula for Progress.”

Collins said achieving strong bipartisanship is a must to seeing legislative progress, and it remains one of her highest priorities as a senator.
“If you feel like you are living in one of the most partisan times in modern American history, there is a reason for that – you are,” Collins said. She cited statistics revealing the increasing culture of party unity in Congress, referring to the percentage of Senate votes where the majority of Republicans vote one way and the majority of Democrats vote the other.

 “During Senator Mitchell’s six-year tenure as leader, with one exception, the percentage of party unity votes hovered around 50 percent each year,” Collins said. “In fact, in Senator Mitchell’s first year as leader, the percentage of party unity votes was only 35 percent. In contrast, last year, it was 67 percent. This was actually an improvement over two years ago, when it was 70 percent.”
For the past decade, the Senator George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture Series has welcomed prominent foreign policy leaders from across the nation to Colby College in Maine for dinner and an informative lecture. Previous speakers at the lecture include Madeline Albright and former U.S. Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD).
After nearly 20 years in the Senate, Collins, who received an honorary degree from Colby College last fall, has earned a reputation as an effective legislator who will step across party lines to seek consensus on our nation’s most important issues to make sure progress is realized. She understands that failing to work effectively with her Democratic counterparts leads to ineffective government, wasted time and money.
“(We’re discussing) why moderation and bipartisanship lead to progress,” Collins said. “(But) the flip side of that premise, of course, is how the hyperpartisanship and incivility in Washington and throughout our nation elevate extremism and prevent progress.

“For many of the issues we address in Washington are not about fundamentals, about right versus wrong,” Collins said. “The vast majority of policy decisions – whether on tax policy, spending priorities, environmental decisions, or a host of other subjects – require a careful and informed balancing of different points of view. In short, they require compromise. We who represent the people of this great nation must put progress over partisanship, statesmanship over stridency, and compromise over conflict.”

Collins cited examples of the effectiveness of bipartisanship and the stalled progress under hyperpartisanship before concluding her lecture. Collins then took questions.