Editorial: Advice for the new Congress

As the new year dawns, Democrats take up new influence in the halls of Congress.

From the suburbs' standpoint, in fact, Democrats rule exclusively. With Sean Casten and Lauren Underwood ousting Republicans to join re-elected Democrats Bill Foster, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Mike Quigley, Jan Schakowsky and Brad Schneider, the entire suburban delegation is now blue.

Remember when staunch Republicans Phil Crane, Dennis Hastert, Henry Hyde, Robert McClory and Don Rumsfeld represented the so-called conservative suburbs? Who could have imagined such a complete and dramatic turnaround?

Add Democratic senators Dick Durbin, party whip; and Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, and it would be natural for the Illinois delegation to play the sharply partisan politics that have ruled Washington in recent years.

We advise them against that approach - both because it's not good governance and because when it gets down to it, it's not good politics either.

Democrats have an excellent opportunity to make a difference in Washington, but they'll do so only if they follow an agenda focused on solving problems rather than scoring points.

We suggest a compendium of goals.

First, avoid the temptation to govern by special prosecutor; deal with the special prosecutor's report as the circumstances suggest, but fight the urge to get pulled reflexively into setting up a whole new array of investigations. We went through four years of using the machinery of Congress to mount partisan attacks on Hillary Clinton and now we've had another two doing the same on Donald Trump.

We need to make sure our nation's leaders are acting lawfully, but let's not turn government into a constant stream of criminal investigations for political theater.

Second, fix immigration in a way that is good for the country and compassionate to people in need.

Third, accept the Affordable Care Act as the foundation for a national health care policy, then fix the components that are problems and provide assurances of stability.

Fourth, work to get America back to confronting the climate challenge. Many of the problems we've had with climate treaties, and others for that matter, have risen, originally, from a lack of courage in Congress to take on tough issues, leaving them to the changeable whim of presidential executive orders.

Finally, help us all to grow up.

Begin with a more civil and less political discourse. Argue passionately, but listen, too. And show respect. Leave the wooden talking points at home. Think for yourselves more. Take direction from party leaders less.

Through good government, compromise and cooperation, make strong policies and expect the executive branch to enforce them as the Constitution requires.

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