JOLIET, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski has represented the 3rd District in Congress since 2005.
Lipinski, D-Western Springs, lost his bid for reelection last March after losing to Marie Newman in the Democratic primary.
As the congressman prepares to leave office, he spoke about his thoughts on the country’s polarization and the future of the Democratic party.
Lipinski took over the seat from his father and was first elected in 2004. He previously worked as a college instructor and has a doctorate in political science.
During his time in office, he said the House of Representatives has become a more partisan institution. He lamented that the legislative body has become more top-down in its policy making, meaning rank-and-file members have a hard time getting their bills through without the endorsement from leadership.
Lipinski has touted his membership in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which is made up of moderate members. But even bipartisan cooperation doesn’t mean legislative success in the House these days, he added.
“It’s just not really possible a lot of times to be able to get these solutions that we would come up with, to the House floor because no speaker would want to yield the policy making to a bipartisan group like this,” Lipinski said.
In general, Lipinski said the political polarization in the country is a concern. He sees it as an impediment to solving big issues like climate change and increasing automation endangering jobs.
“Right now there’s just not a whole lot getting done with the gridlock,” he said. “Our country is divided. How does that change? It’s going to be very difficult.”
Still, he praised President-elect Joe Biden as the right person to try to break that gridlock, though Lipinski said it’s not easy to bridge the divide.
He’s also been more vocal about the ideological differences within his own party which have erupted since the 2020 election yielded somewhat disappointing results for Democrats down ballot.
On Nov. 4, Lipinski tweeted, “This should have been a #BlueWave! Yet, many voters still saw #GOP as better choice. (The Democratic) Party has alienated many by lurching left & shrinking tent. This need to change!”
He said the electorate does prefer Democratic policies when it comes to economic issues, though some ideas have turned off moderate voters. He cited President Barack Obama’s criticism of slogans like “defund the police.” While Lipinski said the issue is far more nuanced than how it’s discussed in the news media, he argued such stances affect how voters see his party.
“I think there was just a sense among some swing voters, and it doesn’t take a lot, that the Democratic Party has gone too far to the left,” he said.
Lipinski has had own criticism from progressives over his anti-abortion stance. He even cited the issue as the big factor in his loss to Newman.
Even so, Lipinski said he’s spoken to Newman since her election win and their staffs have been in touch so she can transition into the seat come January.
As for his future plans, Lipinski said he’s writing a book based on his experiences in Congress.
Looking back he said he’s proud of bringing federal dollars back to the district for things like added rail service and other transportation improvements. Overall he said he was a “serious legislator” and pointed to his authoring of 16 laws and leading the passage on several others.
“I represented well all of my constituents and helped to make improvements across the district,” he said.
Source: The (Joliet) Herald-News, https://bit.ly/3mV3DGQ
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