Our new congressman, Chris Gibson, ran this year as a moderate, pragmatic, bipartisan bridge builder. In 2010, when he won his first term in a vastly different district that didn’t include our area, he ran as a steamed up tea party guy and got elected. So you’ll pardon us if we’re still not sure just exactly who he is, even while congratulating him on his victory.
But we see a real opportunity for him in this coming congress, not only to represent us, the constituents on his left, but to do a great service for all in his district and for the Republican party, which has been held captive by its agenda that appeared to be largely to defeat President Barack Obama.
Gibson can choose to do something that is desperately needed in congress. He has the leadership skills to be the one to build a bridge to centrists of both parties, to create a coalition of the middle, one that would seek to find common ground in the House on the nation’s problems. He would have to find willing partners, those who have the guts to withstand the monoliths on the outer fringes of the party, those who force the leadership into radical stances. He might become an outcast to that leadership, who won’t have the opportunity for chairmanships and perks. But that shouldn’t matter to Gibson because he has stated that he will term limit himself to eight years, of which he has already served two — and we know that only the ancient dinosaurs make it to the chairmanships. He is also deeply immersed in policy, able to engage in the depth of minutiae that would be necessary to craft truly bipartisan legislation.
In doing so, he would have a chance to show the left leaning part of this district — an area he lost in this election — that he has gone beyond the far right tea party rhetoric of his 2010 campaign. The Republican party, in its soul searching, must come to a conclusion that it will not be competitive in future elections, especially in 2016 when there will not be an incumbent president running, unless it builds a record of accomplishment. We’re not asking him to become a screaming liberal. Our cynical side would see him falling into the rank and file line of faceless House Republicans, obstructing progress for some imagined political advantage. But we’d greatly appreciate it if he used the unique position we see him in to take a bold stance and bridge the great divide. It’s his choice.