Columbia, SC — THE GREATEST danger to our nation is not that the Republicans will take over the Senate this fall — or that they won’t. It’s not that Hillary Clinton will be elected president in two years. Or Ted Cruz.
It’s not even a nuclear Iran or an expansionist Vladimir Putin — though we ought to be a lot more concerned about those possibilities than the others.
No, our biggest danger is that the political center will disintegrate. That we will cease to be able to find — indeed, that we will stop even trying to find — areas of agreement between Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, black and white, young and old, conservative and liberal. That we will abandon pragmatism for ideological purity. That we will lose the ability to solve the problems that face our nation — indeed, that we will lose the ability to agree on what those problems even are.
The center is not a fixed point; it moves to the left or right as our national experience changes and we change our ideas about how to address our problems. But wherever it is located, it is the place where people of good will on the left and the right come together to search for, to find common ground. And finding common ground is essential for any human endeavor — be it marriage or a business or a sports team or a church or a government. Maybe especially a government.
Only once before in our history have extreme voices held such sway in our national conversation. Only once before has the sensible center seemed so fragile, so incapable of overcoming the voices of extremism, of bringing moderation, of reminding us that those things that unite us are far more important than those things that divide us. When the sensible center could not hold, our nation went to war with itself.
We are not near a civil war today, but we are trapped in gridlock as our problems mount and reasonable solutions wither on the vine, because they require everyone to give up something.
This is why it is essential to South Carolina — and to the nation — that voters send U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham back to Washington for another term. Lindsey Graham is one of the dwindling voices in Washington who is fighting to preserve the sensible center.
Yes, Lindsey Graham is smart and he works hard to protect South Carolina’s interests, and he’s right on a lot of issues. But in nearly every case, whether he’s right or wrong, he is willing to work with those who disagree.
It is disturbing that this is the sin for which he has drawn opposition in the June 10 Republican primary. Oh, his opponents complain that he supports “amnesty” for illegal immigrants and that he voted to confirm President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees and that he wasn’t willing to shut down the government in a doomed effort to destroy Obamacare. But in the end, their complaints come down to the fact that he works with Democrats. Negotiates with Democrats. Compromises with Democrats. Which is to say that they believe he should be kicked out of office because he wants to accomplish something for our nation.
Mr. Graham understands what most of us understand in our daily lives but sometimes forget when it comes to politics: Unless you have all the power, you have to work with others who have power in order to accomplish anything. That means you to have to talk to them. And you have to give something up.
Mr. Graham wants to balance the budget and make our tax system more competitive and keep Social Security and Medicare solvent, and he realizes he has to give up something to get that. He wants to secure our borders, and he realizes he has to give up something to get that. He wants to protect our military and preserve our status as the world’s only superpower, and he realizes he has to give up something to get that.
The no-compromise approach embraced by his opponents is suicidal, to a nation, and to a party. Ours, thank goodness, is not a Republican nation or a Democratic nation; it’s not a far-left or a far-right nation. It’s a nation made up of some people on each extreme and mostly people in the broad center, people who have to push aside their differences and work together in order to preserve its greatness. People like Lindsey Graham. He represents all of us, and he represents our nation, indivisible.
We need him to keep representing all of us. And our nation. Indivisible.
In their own words
We asked the candidates for U.S. Senate to complete a questionnaire as part of our endorsement process. Read their answers and answers from candidates for other offices. And read our previous endorsements here.