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Senate Should Push Toward Peak Performance

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This week, after the press predicted doom for the potential repeal and replacement of Obamacare, Senator John McCain, R., Ariz., who had been diagnosed with brain cancer last week, flew back into Washington to vote for the motion to debate the potential repeal of Obamacare. While standing on the floor of the Senate, McCain charged to Senate to be more, to do more,than stand for partisan politics.

He has a point - it's through self-transcendence that great feats can be accomplished. "Peak Performance" authors Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness write that people perform at their best when they are able to transcend self and overcome their limitations and fears by focusing on something greater. "A self-transcending purpose doesn't come from thin air. It comes from inside you," wrote Stulberg and Magness.

McCain reminded the Senate that "they had an obligation to work collaboratively to ensure the Senate discharged its constitutional responsibilities effectively. Our responsibilities are important, vitally important, to the continued success of our Republic. And our arcane rules and customs are deliberately intended to require broad cooperation to function well at all."

While the rest of America might move forward at a rapid pace, in the Senate there is the "necessity of compromise in order to make incremental progress on solving America's problems and to defend her from her adversaries."

As there has not been much compromise recently, McCain acknowledged that the Senate wasn't "producing much for the American people." In an attempt to get everything, instead, very little has been gained. "We've all played some role in it. Certainly I have," he acknowledged, and the work can be just plain boring, "incremental progress, compromises that each side criticize but also accept, just plain muddling through to chip away at problems and keep our enemies from doing their worst isn't glamorous or exciting."

He advised the Senators to "stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them. They don't want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood."

For next steps, McCain suggested, "let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee under Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today."

Hope's everlasting -- compromise and incremental changes might be coming. This week Burgess Everett, Seung Min Kim and Jennifer Haberkorn, in a Politico article titled, "How the GOP brought Obamacare repeal back from the dead," wrote, "Capito, Portman and Heller had been begging GOP leaders for weeks to revamp their approach to Medicaid ... They hoped McConnell could be persuaded to add $100 billion in spending aimed at blunting those cuts, but leadership was caught between them and fiscal conservatives.

"Yet in front of McConnell and the rest of the caucus, Trump told Republican senators that 'we're going to add this money to the bill,' according to two sources familiar with the matter."

Time will tell if this compromise point becomes a trend.

In closing, McCain called again on the Senate to be more than the individuals from which it is comprised, reminding the August body of its important role. "The success of the Senate is important to the continued success of America. This country -- this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, restless, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, good and magnificent country -- needs us to help it thrive. That responsibility is more important than any of our personal interests or political affiliations.

"We are the servants of a great nation...What greater cause could we hope to serve than helping keep America the strong, aspiring, inspirational beacon of liberty and defender of the dignity of all human beings and their right to freedom and equal justice? That is the cause that binds us and is so much more powerful and worthy than the small differences that divide us."

In the end, for the bill to get through the Senate, there must be compromise, and in order to compromise, the Senators must remember that there is more at stake than their individual reelections.

While many were cynical of McCain's remarks, possibly it would behove those of us outside the arena to remember that the process is about more than just us, and if we focus on building the good, and focus on something greater than ourselves, maybe we too could work toward performing at our very best.

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