Olympia Snowe

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You can never solve a problem without talking to people with whom you disagree.

Olympia Jean Snowe (née Bouchles; born 21 February 1947) is an American politician and former United States Senator from Maine and a member of the Republican Party. In 2006, she was named one of America's Best Senators by TIME magazine.


It's not healthy for the country to have parties with polar opposite views without that bridge that you need to build consensus.
I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us.
  • Ultimately, we're heading to having the smallest political tent in history, the way events have been unfolding. If the Republican Party fully intends to become a majority party in the future, it must move from the far right back toward the middle.
    • Statement of April 2009, as quoted in "US Sen. Olympia Snowe in her own words" by The Associated Press (28 February 2012).
  • I do find it frustrating … that an atmosphere of polarization and "my way or the highway" ideologies has become pervasive in campaigns and in our governing institutions.
    With my Spartan ancestry I am a fighter at heart; and I am well prepared for the electoral battle, so that is not the issue. However, what I have had to consider is how productive an additional term would be. Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail.
    As I enter a new chapter, I see a vital need for the political center in order for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us. It is time for change in the way we govern, and I believe there are unique opportunities to build support for that change from outside the United States Senate. I intend to help give voice to my fellow citizens who believe, as I do, that we must return to an era of civility in government driven by a common purpose to fulfill the promise that is unique to America.
  • What are our obligations to the country and to the people we represent? It's the coming up with effective solutions, sitting down and working with the issues. Sitting around table and sorting through the differences.
    You can never solve a problem without talking to people with whom you disagree. The United States Senate is predicated and based on consensus building. That was certainly the vision of the founding fathers. And if we abandon that approach, then we do it at the expense of the country and the issues that we need to address to put us back on track.
  • We are not working out issues anymore. We are working on a parallel universe, with competing proposals, up or down votes.
    • As quoted in "Andrea Mitchell's exclusive interview with Sen. Olympia Snowe" by Weesie Vieira (29 February 2012).
  • I understand that the hyper-partisanship in Washington makes people feel alienated. They're frustrated and they're angry, and they should be, but they can do something about it. We've got to turn it around. I'm concerned it's going to become institutionalized. … Make candidates accountable for making government work. That should be a debate question: What are you going to do to make government work? You can't sit on your hands and say, "No, I want it 100% my way." I don't know how this evolved, but I find it irrational — you don't demand that in any other sphere of life. The country is now in a virtual standstill. We can't begin to measure the reverberation of all this legislative neglect five, six, or whatever years into the future.
    • As quoted in "Can Olympia Snowe Change Washington?", interview by Kathleen Fleury and Virginia M. Wright, in Downeast magazine (October 2014).

Quotes about Snowe

Alphabetized by author
  • I think I can honestly say that if Olympia had announced her retirement because of ill health or to spend more time with Jock I probably wouldn't have run. … What perked me up is why she is leaving. Olympia has 30 years of seniority, she's likable, she works very hard, and if she can't make it work, nobody in either party is going to make it work.
  • Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe's decision to retire from the Senate caused a scramble Wednesday among potential Democratic and Republican candidates just two weeks before a deadline to qualify for the June primary ballot. … Former independent Gov. Angus King and former independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler also were weighing runs. … Cutler, for his part, is a former Democrat but he told The Associated Press that if he runs, he'd do it as an independent.
    Also considering a bid was King, another independent. He said he'll decide within a few days even though independents aren't bound by the March 15 deadline.
    "I'm giving it some thought for the very reason that Olympia quit. It's just not working down there and maybe we need to try something different," King said Wednesday. "We have serious problems in this country but we can't begin to solve them until we solve this shrill deadlock."
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