2017 U.S. Senate Race

The Common Sense Coalition is sort of an anomaly. It’s a bipartisan, centrist group of senators operating in the middle of a highly polarized political climate. How viable of a political philosophy is centrism in a divided 2018?

Doug Jones

Jones: I think if you see what’s happened in the last six weeks, since I took office … . You’re always going to have divisions, but let’s just look at the budget, for instance. Yeah, the government shut down for three days. But at the end of the day, you saw a bipartisan budget resolution that’s now going to be put in an omnibus bill that’s going to fund the government for the next two years — this year and next year. That is unheard of in the modern era, in the last few years.

If you look at what’s in that bill, it was the very things that have divided people in the past, but (then) they just didn’t have the ability to come together to talk about it, to find common ground. Now, all of a sudden, in a 51-49 Senate — with the newest members talking about reaching across the aisle, talking about doing things, progressing, moving forward — we get a bipartisan bill that accomplishes a lot. I mean, people sat down and found common ground.

Now, to accomplish that, we took one issue out of the budget process. We took immigration and DACA out of the budget, because if that had stayed in there, we would still be deadlocked. It’s allowed the Senate to go back to what we do, regular order, to start debating that bill. I was really disappointed that the agreement that we had failed the other day, but I’m still hopeful that we can get something done.

But think about the fact that we’ve got this budget resolution done, which is really the only must-pass bill that we do. Now we can focus on other, bigger and important things. There’s a lot out there. There’s immigration, DACA, border security, banking reform, all manner of things. The whole issue of school safety and guns has now hit us again really hard. I do worry that that could take us back to those divisions, which is why I talked today about continuing to talk to each other and not dividing people, trying to get past the political rhetoric and the emotion and talk turkey about what we can do.

Read the full interview.