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OPINION

Sen. Pat Roberts advocated for Kansans, agriculture throughout his career in D.C.

By The Editorial Advisory Board
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts

Outgoing U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has put in the time.

After spending 16 years in the House of Representatives and 22 years in the Senate, the octogenarian statesman deserves a restful retirement. Roberts has been a steadfast advocate for his state and for agriculture, serving as a worthy successor to Sen. Bob Dole as an iconic prairie politician.

Kansans appreciate steadfastness and loyalty. We understand and remember when someone has been there for us, no matter what. Roberts has been that solid, sensible presence in Washington, D.C. He should be remembered fondly for that.

On the other hand, we must note that Roberts could have done more to stand up to President Trump’s excesses over the past four years. He could — and should — have recognized President-Elect Joe Biden after this year’s presidential race was called in early November. And he could have done much more in recent weeks to push back against discredited claims of election fraud or vote rigging. 

It doesn’t matter what party you’re from: These claims are dangerous, and public officials have a responsibility to denounce them in forceful terms. Those who didn’t do so will answer to their conscience the country as a whole.

The question of Roberts’ legacy is one for the history books to decide. We will note, however, that he worked collaboratively and productively with Democrats throughout his career. As a veteran lawmaker, he understood that partisanship may win elections but seldom passes meaningful legislation. That’s a lesson that more legislators should learn.

Most importantly, we want to pay tribute to the senator’s lengthy time in office. Experience makes a difference in government. While term limits and anti-incumbent rhetoric are often popular, the simple truth is that making good policy take skill and experience.

Roberts spent the time needed to learn the ropes. He served in leadership positions. He negotiated tough bills. He kept at it, not because of glamour, fame or fortune (he could have easily become a lobbyist and made much more), but because he was a public servant.

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat or independent, that’s worthy of note. Thank you, Pat Roberts, for serving Kansas. Thank you for working on behalf of this state. And have a safe, healthy, and happy retirement.