Twenty-four years after first assuming the office of U.S. Senator for Connecticut, Joseph Lieberman charged his colleagues and the dozen incoming senators to set aside partisan politics in a Dec. 12 farewell address.
Lieberman, who will retire from politics when the current term ends, was first elected to the Senate in 1988 after serving 10 years as a state senator and six as state attorney general.
In his final address, Lieberman, who switched his party affiliation to Independent after first being elected on the Democratic ticket, said he is optimistic for the future but said leadership from both parties is pivotal.
“Today I regret to say as I leave the Senate that the greatest obstacle that stands between us and the brighter American future we all want is right here in Washington,” Lieberman said in a prepared speech. “It is the partisan polarization of our politics which prevents us from making the principled compromises on which progress in a democracy depends, and right now, which prevents us from restoring our fiscal solvency as a nation. We need bipartisan leadership to break the gridlock in Washington that will unleash all the potential that is in the American people.
“And so I would respectfully appeal to my colleagues—especially the twelve new Senators who will take the oath of office for the first time next month. I know how hard each of you has worked to get elected to the United States Senate, and I know that you work so hard, because you wanted to come here to make a difference for the better. There is no magic or mystery about the way to do so in the U.S. Senate. It requires reaching across the aisle and finding partners from the opposite party. It means ultimately putting the interests of country and constituents ahead of the dictates of party and ideology.”
His service was applauded by fellow Sen. Richard Blumenthal and by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“Many of our colleagues will come to the floor in these remaining days of this session to commemorate the tremendous legacy that he leaves,” Blumenthal said Dec. 12 in prepared remarks. “And it is a legacy of action, not just of words as we have heard today, but action and achievement.
Malloy thanked Lieberman for his service to the state, and said in a statement that his retirement “marks the end of an era.”