The wisdom of George W. Norris

Photo and image credit: Photo of George W. Norris portrait on United States Senate web site; portrait used as courtesy Fighting Liberal: The Autobiography of George W. Norris (The Macmillian Company, 1945) pp. ii.

Photo and image credit: Photo of George W. Norris’ portrait taken from United States Senate web site; portrait printed in Fighting Liberal: The Autobiography of George W. Norris (The Macmillan Company, 1945) pp. ii.

George W. Norris, from Nebraska, served in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate from 1903 until 1943.  He was a Republican until his final term in the Senate when he became an independent. A portrait of Norris hangs in the chambers adjacent to the awe-inspiring Special Proceedings Courtroom in Omaha.

One of our judges today reminded me that the framed portrait of Norris in the Special Proceedings chambers bears this quote:  “The spirit of partisanship, if carried to the extreme, will destroy the very fundamental principles of democratic government.”


7 responses

  1. When I saw this in my email inbox, all that showed of the subject before I clicked it was “The Wisdom of George W….” I think you can imagine the first thought that went through my head. 😉

    That is a great quote from him and I truly wish more people would listen to it. I think the Dems have largely heeded it (sometimes a little too much), but the Republicans seem never to have heard it. What the hell ever happened to the Rockefeller Republicans? 😦

  2. Sean1978,

    You’re taking me down memory lane.

    When I interviewed for a clerkship with Judge Donald R. Ross, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, he gently probed my leanings. In an earlier life, the judge was Vice-Chair of what became the RNC. He was a heavy hitter in national Republican circles. I truthfully told the judge that I was a Rockefeller Republican, and that seemed OK with him. I got the job. That was 1972.

    By the way, not once when I worked for Judge Ross did I ever have the slightest hint that the judge’s politics mattered when it came to the appeals he heard. For a little more on Judge Ross and his exploits as a war hero, see here.

    All the best.


  3. Senator Norris was the driving force that resulted in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Rural Electrical Authority (REA) and Nebraska’ Unicameral and our tradition of Public Power.

    McCook is the home of Lincoln Mayor Bill Harris, Senator George Norris, Governor Ralph Brooks, Governor Frank Morrison (who loved to say- “The Republican river is shallow and crooked) and Governor and Senator Ben Nelson, his vote allowed an up or down vote on ObamaCares.

  4. Dear Vince,

    The post you comment upon was about George Norris and extreme partisanship. Thus, your comment listing all the Dems. from McCook, coupled with your distinguished service as Chair of the Nebraska Democratic party, tickled me. You just never give up!

    Norris, a Republican most of his life, towers above the Democrats you list as hailing from McCook. As for Frank Morrison, and his crack about the Republican river, I am reminded of another Nebraska Democrat, William Jennings Bryan, he of “monkey trial” infamy. Bryan’s speaking prowess earned him the nickname “boy orator of the Platte,” but his detractors liked to point out that the Platte River was “only six inches deep and a mile wide at the mouth.” In that regard, Bryan and Frank were soul mates.

    Have a nice day. All the best.


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