WASHINGTON — Retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) called on members of Congress to work across the aisle and not worry about being labeled a liberal or RINO (Republican In Name Only).
Isakson said bipartisanship is a “state of mind” and “governing is not a popularity contest.”
“We can do it. We can do anything. We may be called a liberal. We may be called a RINO. We may be called whatever it is — let’s solve the problem and then see what happens. Most people who call people names and point fingers are people who don’t have a solution themselves but they want to make damn sure you don’t solve it,” Isakson said during his farewell address Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Then bipartisanship will become a way you accomplish things, a way you live. A state of being. It will be the end of a bad time and the beginning of a new one and I want to live long enough to see both.”
Isakson said America won’t “exist much longer” without both parties teaming up to solve problems instead of worrying about labels.
“America, we’ve got a problem, just like Apollo had and our problem is we’re not going to repeat ourselves, we’re not going to exist much longer. We live in the greatest country on the face of this earth. There’s nobody any better than the United States of America. Everybody’s trying to break in. Nobody’s trying to break out,” he said.
“We are always passing laws like they’re all trying to break out, but they’re all trying to break in. Why? Because it is the safest, happiest, richest place in the world. It is because we’re the best people to protect that happiness and have enough people to go into the military on a voluntary basis; less than 1% of the population has served in the military and it makes us the greatest defender of freedom and opportunity of anybody in the world,” he added.
Isakson mentioned church membership declining and public school curriculum challenges among the issues facing the country.
“Churches don’t have the membership they used to have and it’s significant. School curriculums are getting a whole lot more tough than they used to be and I was chairman of the board of education for a state for a few years,” he said. “A lot of the traditional things we all love and believe in like God and country; like school and religion and Sunday school and things like that — they have their challenges, so I’m rolling up my sleeves in whatever of my life I’ve got left.”