SOME PARTING THOUGHTS Mr. PELL. Mr. President, as I approach the end of my sixth term in the Senate, I look back at the 36 years with wonder and awe at what we have passed through, but with some concern for the future of our institutions in the century ahead. My concern is rooted in apprehension that human nature may not be keeping pace with the means now at our disposal to influence opinion and effect change. A long range, telescopic view of our place in history puts this concern in perspective, particularly as we approach the end of the second millennium. The thousand years that began with a tradition of chivalry in dank Medieval castles, ends with a distinctly unchivalrous, albeit more comfortable, world community tied together by the instant miracle of electronic communication and jet flight, but overshadowed by the still lingering threat of mass destruction. Considering these extremes, I am led to reflect that the rules of human behavior in the conduct of public affairs have not developed as rapidly as the provisions for human comfort, or the means of communication--or indeed, of mass destruction. Sometimes, it almost seems, to paraphrase a common humorous expression, as though we should ``stop the world'' and let the human spirit catch up with technological progress. So now I ask myself what guidance can we give to those who follow that would help them, short of stopping the world, to reconcile the realities of the day with the realm of the spirit? When I came to the Senate in 1961, it was, in retrospect, a time of almost unlimited possibilities. Most of us were imbued with a rather exuberant mind-set conditioned by recent events. We had lived through the economic crises of the 1930's and we had survived the cataclysm of World War II, and in both cases it had been the dominant role of a strong central government which had saved the day. So it was not surprising that we brought with us a great sense of confidence in the role of government. We extended that faith in progressive government into many other areas, and I believe we did many good things in its name in the years that followed. I am very proud of the fact that I was able to play a modest part in these endeavors, particularly in the field of education. But hovering over us for the three decades that followed was the numbing specter of the cold war that tested our endurance and our nerve. It was in the peripheral engagements of the cold war, first Korea and then, most conclusively, in Vietnam, that the basic tenets of our commitment were put to the test. And in the latter event, they were found wanting in the minds and hearts of many of us. In retrospect, it may well have been the widespread disillusionment with foreign policy in the Vietnam era which sowed the seeds of a broader cynicism which seems to be abroad in the land today. And with it came an end to that sense of unlimited possibilities that many of us brought to public life. Many other factors have contributed to that current of cynicism, but primary among them, in my view, is the impact of the electronic media, particularly in its treatment of politics and public affairs. At its worst, it glorifies sensationalism, thrives on superficiality and raises false expectations, often by holding people in public life accountable to standards which are frequently unrealistic or simply not relevant. Unfortunately, the rise of the electronic media has coincided with the coming of age of a new generation of Americans which is both blessed and challenged by the absence of the unifying force of a clear national adversary. I am reminded, in this connection, of Shakespeare's reference to ``the cankers of a calm world and a long peace,'' referring to the age of Henry IV, when a temporary absence of conflict had an adverse effect on the quality of recruits pressed into military service. In our time, the sudden ending of the cold war removed what had been a unifying national threat, leaving in its wake a vacuum of purpose which I fear has been filled in part by the cankers of the electronic media. The result has been a climate which exploits the natural confrontational atmosphere of the democratic process by accentuating extremes without elaborating on the less exciting details. It is a climate which encourages pandering to the lowest levels of public and private greed, a prime example of which is the almost universal defamation of the taxing power which makes it virtually impossible to conduct a rational public debate over revenue policy. The times call for a renewed sense of moral responsibility in public service, and for service performed with courage of conviction. To be sure, this is not a new idea. One of my favorite political quotations in this regard is an excerpt from a speech by Edmund Burke to the Electors of Bristol in 1774: Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion. It must be noted that Mr. Burke was thrown out of office not long after making this speech, demonstrating a courage of conviction on his part and on the part of the electors as well. But he stands as a model, nonetheless, of the sort of selfless dedication to principle which must be brought to bear in the current climate. Beyond individual virtue, I believe we must strive in a corporate sense for a qualitative change in public dialog. If I could have one wish for the future of our country in the new millennium, it would be that we not abandon the traditional norms of behavior that are the underpinning of our democratic system. Comity and civility, transcending differences of party and ideology, have always been crucial elements in making Government an effective and constructive instrument of public will. But in times such as these, when there is fundamental disagreement about the role of Government, it is all the more essential that we preserve the spirit of civil discourse. It has been distressing of late to hear the complaints of those who would abandon public service because they find the atmosphere mean spirited. They seem to suggest that the basic rules of civilized behavior have been stifled. They make a good point, although I hasten to say that this was not a consideration in my own decision to retire at the end of my present term. After more than 35 years, I have some to expect a certain amount of rancor in the legislative process. But I certainly agree that it seems to have gotten out of bounds. I say this with all respect for my colleagues in the Senate. They are wonderfully talented men and women, dedicated to serving their constituents and to improving the quality of our national life. I do not expect to have the good fortune again to work with such a fine, well-motivated and able group. But even this exceptional group sometimes yields to the virus of discontent which has infected the body politic. In 1995, before retiring from the Senate to become president of the University of Oklahoma, my good friend David Boren sent a letter to his colleagues lamenting the fact that ``we have become so partisan and so personal in our attacks upon each other that we can no longer effectively work together in the natural interest.'' It was a thoughtful warning that has meaning far beyond the U.S. Senate and applies to our whole national political dialog. The fact is that the democratic process depends on respectful disagreement. As soon as we confuse civil debate with reckless disparagement, we have crippled the process. A breakdown of civility reinforces extremism and [[Page S12421]] discourages the hard process of negotiating across party lines to reach a broad-based consensus. The Founding Fathers who prescribed the ground rules for debate in Congress certainly had all these considerations in mind. We address each other in the third person with what seems like elaborate courtesy. The purpose, of course, is to remind us constantly that whatever the depth of our disagreements, we are all common instruments of the democratic process. Some of that spirit, I believe, needs to be infused into the continuing national debate that takes place outside the Halls of Congress. It should be absorbed by our political parties and it should be respected by the media, particularly in this era of electronic information. The democratic process is not well served by spin doctors and sound bites. Nor is it well served by blustering assertions of no compromise, such as those we heard in the wake of the 1994 congressional elections. David Boren had the temerity--and wisdom--to suggest that instead of holding weekly meetings to plot how to outsmart each other, the party caucuses in the Senate should hold two meetings a month to explore bipartisan solutions on pending issues. Again, it's another good idea which could apply to the national dialog. I would only add my own prescription for comity, which can be summarized in three simple rules: First, never respond to an adversary in ad hominem terms. In my six campaigns for the Senate, I have never resorted to negative advertising. The electorate seems to have liked that approach, since they have given me an average margin of victory of 64 percent. Second, always let the other fellow have your way. I have always found that winning an ally is far more important than getting exclusive credit. In politics, the best way to convince someone is to lead him or her to discover what you already know. Third, sometimes, half a loaf can feed an army. The democratic process is meant to be slow and deliberate, and change is hard to achieve. Very often, achievement of half of an objective is just as significant as achievement of 100 percent. And it may make it easier to achieve the rest later. In Government, as in all endeavors, it is the end result that counts--whether that result is half a loaf or more. Hopefully, an increase in comity and civility, together with renewed emphasis on moral responsibility, will result in a qualitative improvement in end results. In that regard, I have been guided throughout my Senate career by a simple motto and statement of purpose. It is a mantra of just seven words: translate ideas into action and help people There have been some days, to be sure, when neither of these objectives has been achieved, but week after week and year after year, I have found those words to be useful guideposts for a legislative career. They help one sort the wheat from the chaff. And they also are a constant reminder that our role is to produce results in the form of sound legislation, and not engage in endless and repetitive debate that leads nowhere. This is an especially hard prescription for the U.S. Senate, comprised as it is of 100 coequal Members, each representing a sovereign State. Everyone has a right to speak at length. But there are some limits. And a principal one is the Senate's rule that debate can be curtailed by invoking cloture, if three-fifths of the Members, or 60 Senators, vote to do so. It has been my general policy to vote for cloture, regardless of party or issue, except when there were very compelling circumstances to the contrary. Over my Senate career I have cost more than 350 votes for cloture, which may be something of a record. It should be noted that circumstances have changed greatly since the Senate imposed the cloture rule back in 1917. In those days, there were genuine filibusters with marathon speeches that often kept the Senate in continuous session for days, including all night sessions with cots set up in the lobbies. Nowadays, such displays of endurance virtually never occur, but at the very threat of extended debate, the 60-vote requirement is invoked to see if the minority has enough votes to prevail against it--and if they do, the pending bill is often pulled down and set aside. The 60-vote margin, which originally was set even higher at two- thirds of those present, was designed to protect the minority's right to make itself heard, while still providing a vehicle for curbing debate. Only a super majority can impose limits. But as time and practice have evolved, the other side of the coin has revealed itself-- namely that a willful minority of 40 or more Senators can use the cloture rule to block legislative progress. Recent majority leaders of both parties have expressed frustration with the deadlocks that can result. The ultimate solution, of course, might be to outlaw all super majorities, except for those specifically allowed by the Constitution-- such as veto overrides, treaty approvals and impeachment verdicts. Since the Constitution carefully provides for these specific exceptions, it might be assumed that the Framers intended that all other business should be transacted by a simple majority. I must hasten to say that while I find the logic of such an ultimate solution to be intriguing, I do not subscribe to it. As a Senator from the smallest State, I have always been sensitive to the fact that circumstances could arise in which I would need the special protection of minority rights which is accorded by the cloture rule. One possible solution which certainly bears future consideration is a compromise recently proposed by Senator Tom Harkin. Under his plan, the existing cloture rule would be modified by providing that if the three- fifth is not obtained on the first try, the margin be reduced progressively on subsequent cloture votes on the same bill over a period of time until only a simple majority would be required to shut off debate. Such a plan would protect the minority but would do so within reasonable limits of time, after which the majority could conduct the business of the Senate. With reasonable reforms in the cloture rule, and with a new spirit of comity and civility along with a renewed sense of responsible public service, I do believe the Senate, and our institutions of government in general, can rise to the challenges of the new century. And in doing so, they hopefully will address more satisfactorily than we have done so far some of the truly compelling issues of our times--such as economic disparity and racial and social inequality. Over the years, I have thought time and again of the historical comparison between Sparta and Athens. Sparta is known historically for its ability to wage war, and little more. Athens, however, is known for its immense contributions to culture and civilization. In all that I have done over the past 36 years in the U.S. Senate, I have had that comparison uppermost in mind. I believe deeply that when the full history of our Nation is recorded, it is critical that we be known as an Athens, and not a Sparta. My efforts in foreign relations have been guided accordingly. I believe that instead of our ability to wage war, we should be known for our ability to bring peace. Having been the first and only nation to use a nuclear weapon, we should be known as the nation that brought an end to the spread of nuclear weapons. We should be known as the nation that went the extra mile to bring peace among warring nations. We should be known as the nation that made both land and sea safe for all. In particular, I believe that we should seize every opportunity to engage in multilateral efforts to preserve world peace. We should redouble our support for the United Nations, and not diminish it as some propose. We should not lose sight of the UN's solid record of brokering peace--actions that have consistently served U.S. interests and spared us the costly alternatives that might have otherwise resulted. In education, I want us to be known as the nation that continually expanded educational opportunities--that brought every child into the educational mainstream, and that brought the dream of a college education within the reach of every student who has the drive, talent, and desire. We should always remember that public support for education is the best possible investment we can make in our Nation's [[Page S12422]] future. It should be accorded the highest priority. In the arts and humanities, I want us to be known for our contributions, and for the encouragement we give to young and old alike to pursue their God-given talents. I want us to be recognized as a nation that opened the arts to everyone, and brought the humanities into every home. And here too, I believe government has a proper role in strengthening and preserving our national cultural heritage. Pursuing these objectives is not an endeavor that ends with the retirement of one person. It is a lifetime pursuit of a nation, and not an individual. It is always a work of art in progress, and always one subject to temporary lapses and setbacks. My hope, however, is that it is our ongoing mission to become, like Athens, a nation that is known for its civility and its civilization.