Former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is lamenting the “lost art of human relations” in the United States Senate.
Harkin, a Democrat who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate, did not run for reelection in 2014. Harkin said these days senators spend little time listening to one another in private or in public.
“The lack of debate, legitimate debate,” Harkin said. “Everybody goes and gives a speech and then they walk off the senate floor. There’s no such thing as a debate any longer on the senate floor.”
Harkin said “the money chase” is partly to blame as senators have to raise more and more cash for their reelection campaigns.
“We need a whole new generation of young people that will sort of raise the bar,” Harkin said. “…Young people know how to get along, maybe more so than some of us old timers.”
Harkin made his comments Sunday afternoon after receiving an award at the Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. The Institute was started by Bob Dole, the Republican Party’s 1996 nominee for president who was a long-time G-O-P leader in the U.S. Senate. Harkin, who visited Dole at Dole’s home in Washington, D.C. last Friday, said Dole was “a great legislator” because he knew who to work with people.
“Willing to compromise, probably a dirty word today,” Harkin said. “Someone said once: ‘Cooperation is the essense of civilization.’ It is, so we could cooperate and get things done.”
Harkin is scheduled to be in Des Moines this afternoon to hand out his annual “Excellence in AmeriCorps Award.” His 2017 award goes to a young woman who helped create an institute at the University of Northern Iowa that encourages students to get involved in their community through service to others.