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When Liberal Republican Wasn’t An Oxymoron

by Dave Zorow

When Rockland’s NYS Senator passed away last week, Middletown’s Times Herald-Record said Thomas Morahan “was the last of the liberal Republicans, a species that once dominated New York the way the buffalo did the Plains.”

It’s a sign of the times some will see this as a compliment while others will take insult. But most will just regard “liberal republican” as a contradiction in terms. In the flurry of tributes to the Senator, many of his colleagues and admirers praised Morahan for a trait rarely found in NY or DC politics these days: the ability to forge consensus and work with politicians from both parties.

“One of his lasting legacies was his insistence on bipartisanship and non-partisanship in state government, and he strived to achieve that and succeeded in doing so more times than not,” said Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos. Assembly Democratic Leader John Sampson agreed saying “Senator Morahan showed all of us we could put partisanship aside and work together to build a stronger New York.”

The Executive Director of the NYS Republican Party echoed the consensus building theme. “Tom Morahan exemplified the ability to forge compromise and make progress for the people while staying true to his principles,” said Thomas Basile. “His efforts to rally bipartisan support to protect our natural resources will be missed,” said the Environmental Advocates of New York.

There was a time when there when men like Javits, Rockefeller and Lindsay offered a liberal point of view within the Republican party. But those days are long gone. Bipartisanship has also gone out of fashion, replaced by the current brass knuckles winner-take-all approach favored by both parties.

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Morahan lead by example, reaching across the aisle to find common ground for the good of his constituents and New York State. There’s no better way for his successors in Rockland County and across the state to honor his work than by embracing that ideal once again.

Sources: Record Online 7/15/2010, Politics On The Hudson 7/12/2010

Nyack People & Places, a weekly series that features photos and profiles of citizens and scenes near Nyack, NY, is sponsored by Sun River Health.

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