Lindsey Graham is a Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina. A lawyer with a degree from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, Graham served as an active-duty Air Force lawyer for over six years. In 1994, Graham was elected to the United States House of Representatives from South Carolina's 3rd congressional district. In 2002, upon Senator Strom Thurmond's retirement, Graham was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is one of only two U.S. Senators currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School.
Graham serves on six committees in the Senate: Aging, Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Judiciary, Budget, and Veterans Affairs.
Question: Do you believe that government is “broken?"
Lindsey Graham: You know, democracy is difficult to begin with and the fact that you can’t find quick solutions to hard problems is not necessarily a bad thing. What would be a bad thing is if the institutions failed to the point they cannot find any solution to a problem over time. Politics is like term papers. You usually get serious right before the term paper is due. That’s the downside of democracy: without friction, there is really no consensus.
Question: How would you describe your political ideology?
Lindsey Graham: I’m a conservative, but I think I’m a practical guy. Ronald Reagan was one of the great conservatives of modern times and he pursued strong national defense, he was a big believer in lower taxes... but he’s able to find a solution to social security insolvency by working with Tip O’Neill. So the Reagan model of conservatism that can move the country forward is probably where I’m at.
I like the idea that Ronald Reagan stood up to the Soviet Union without flinching, that he pursued a very business-friendly agenda in the Congress, but at the same time, he could sit down with his colleagues on the other side and, in a friendly way, move the ball forward on big issues like social security. So I wish this Congress coming in to being next January would look at what Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did on social security is a way to maybe find a breakthrough on that topic.
Recorded December 1, 2010
Interviewed by Alicia Menendez