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Former senators call for more civility in national politics

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BILLINGS (AP) – Former U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Al Simpson made a case for political civility as the two discussed national topics at a public forum.

Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and Simpson, a Wyoming Republican, called for more respect and understanding during the Monday event hosted by Montana State University Billings and Yellowstone Public Radio.

The senators contrasted the current climate in the Senate with how things were done in their day, citing their ongoing friendship as an example.

“They have to understand each other,” Simpson said. “Max and I didn’t always agree. But we respected each other and we trusted each other.”

Both senators were elected in 1978. Simpson served until 1996, and Baucus served until 2014.

“There were some giants in the Senate when we got there,” Simpson said. “There’s no one you can look up to there now.”

The senators pointed to the media as widening the divides in the country and backing people’s preexisting beliefs. The senators also called out political correctness, describing it as contributing factor to the current shape of politics.

“All of us have bias and prejudice and feelings, and to say we don’t is like a fissure in a volcano that all that stuff’s going to come out of,” Simpson said.

The senators said political disagreement does not have to lead to animosity.

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