Understanding is a real key with political dealings

It has become obvious that unbending partisanship leads only to gridlock in Washington. Gaining a name for willingness to listen to those of the opposite party rather than dismiss them out of hand because of their formal political allegiance is the way to get things done in Congress.

Ohioans and West Virginians are fortunate — or, more accurately, wise in the decisions we make in our polling places — in that regard. Three of our four U.S. senators consistently earn high ratings for bipartisanship.

A study of the bipartisanship of 250 senators, some whose records dated back more than half a century, has been released by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. Results were based on voting records, how often lawmakers were co-sponsors of bills introduced by senators of the opposite party, and how often their bills were backed by lawmakers across the aisle, among other things.

But three of our senators did better. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, was rated the seventh most bipartisan of the 250 senators. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, came in 11th, with Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, right behind him at 12th.

That is not bad at all on a list of 250 senators, several quite distinguished.

Both Capito and Portman are staunch Republicans, for whom voters of their party can cast ballots comfortably. The same can be said of Democrat Manchin.

But all three represent constituents in West Virginia and East Ohio appropriately, for this reason: Democrats hold a comfortable lead in voter registrations in both areas — yet voters frequently support Republicans. Both our states returned majorities for President Donald Trump, the GOP standard-bearer in 2016. Incidentally, margins for Trump in Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties were in the same range (35-49 points) as the 42-point lead — highest in nation — Trump had in West Virginia.

Manchin, Portman and Capito represent our states well, then. And in doing so, they have been able to accomplish important things — not just for our states but also for the nation — that would have been more difficult for their ultra-partisan peers. Good for all three, then, for understanding the key to success in politics.


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