John Dingell Weighs In On Presidential Election, Government Unity

Former Congressman Dingell emphasizes need for bipartisan participation

“Is there perfection here?” says Dingell. “Hell no, there’s not perfection here. But there is opportunity.”

“You’re going to have perfect government when you die and go to heaven.”

Joan Isabella/WDET

Former Democratic Congressman John Dingell, who served in the United States Congress longer than anyone in history, says he was proud of the relationships he had with Republicans. He spoke with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson during this month’s Mackinac Policy Conference about the upcoming presidential election, his career in Congress, and his passion for the issue of expanding health insurance.

Dingell says having participation from both parties is a key to having a representative government. Today, however, Dingell says he sees a different attitude. He says that animosity toward President Obama is undeserved and is connected to the enthusiasm for Donald Trump.

“My old dad used to have a saying for people like that, which is ‘The only reason they take their foot out of their mouth is to change feet,’” says Dingell.

He notes that the criticism of Trump in the media and from people of both parties has been harsh, but says he’s terrified at the thought of a Trump presidency. Among Republicans, says Dingell, he’s heard embarrassment and outrage.

“He seems to be setting up a dual party, which is different than and totally alien to the people I’ve known,” he says. “The Republicans I’ve known and have worked with have been decent people.”

Dingell also sharply criticized Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for not dropping out of the presidential race, again using a phrase he says his father used to use. “He’s just an assistant Republican,” he says.

The former “dean” of Congerss says that the government’s job is to give Americans “a hand up, not a hand-out.” People seem to forget, he says, that it should be creating circumstances that set it up for future success. 

“Is there perfection here?” says Dingell. “Hell no, there’s not perfection here. But there is opportunity.”

“You’re going to have perfect government when you die and go to heaven,” he says.

To hear more of the conversation with John Dingell, including his thoughts on Bernie Sanders and the Affordable Care Act, click on the audio link above.