Rep. Denny Heck’s announcement Wednesday that he is retiring from Congress at the end of the year was worth noting, but not terribly interesting. How the Washington Democrat did it — with a Medium post that detailed in often searing terms his frustrations with a broken political system — is a lot more newsworthy.
“In the spirit of complete openness, part of me is also discouraged. The countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary. I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people, could ignore or deny the President’s unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth.
“As has been observed, however, to some degree he is a symptom and not the cause or at least the only cause. The truth is that civic discourse began degrading before him. At times, it is as though there are no rules or boundaries. Success seems to be measured by how many Twitter followers one has which are largely gained by saying increasingly outrageous things, the more personal the better. There are simply too many hyperbolic adjectives and too few nouns. Civility is out. Compromise is out. All or nothing is in.“
Heck is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and was part of both the closed-door testimony and the public impeachment hearings. Which means he had a front-row seat at the first phase of the impeachment proceedings. And what he saw depressed him. Deeply.
And his diagnosis of what’s wrong with Congress — and politics more generally — is dead on.