Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, today leveled some tough parting words at the United States Senate.
"It's dysfunctional and the political paralysis has overtaken the environment to the detriment of the good of this country," Snowe, who won't be running for re-election, said to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC of the political climate in Washington D.C. "It's very, very difficult to resolve major issues."
Snowe waxed nostalgic about the political compromise of yesteryear, harkening back to the days of then-Majority Leader Bob Dole, who she recalled would put a bipartisan group together in his office to work out a specific problem without the fanfare of today's public political battles.
"We're not working out issues anymore," she said. "We're working in a parallel universe with competing proposals, and up or down votes."
It was only last week, while the Senate was on recess, that Snowe made the "very difficult" decision to not run for re-election, she said. She was celebrating her 65th birthday at the same time, saying that this "milestone" birthday led to her to "focus and be clarifying" about whether or not she was prepared to commit another six years to the U.S. Senate.
Snowe said each party is to blame for the political dysfunction that ultimately led to her deciding to not seek re-election.
"You can never solve a problem without talking to people with whom you disagree," she said. "And the United States Senate is predicated and based on the essence of consensus building. That was certainly the vision of our founding fathers. And if we abandon that approach, then we do it at the expense of the country and the issues we need to address to put us back on track."
Snowe will pursue other opportunities outside the Senate, but was not specific about what she intends to do after her third six-year term ends this year.
"Perhaps I can give voice to the frustrations that exist with the political system," Snowe said., "I'm going to be giving my voice to what should change here in the United States Senate and in Congress to get things done for the American people."