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Editorial: SC's Sen. Lindsey Graham has been a pragmatist; give him another term

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Lindsey Graham had a well-earned reputation for working with both Republicans and Democrats throughout much of his political career, a rare moderate member of the U.S. Senate who exemplified the notion that the art of compromise is a valuable tool in getting things done.

Sen. Graham has tacked to a more pragmatic course in the four years since President Donald Trump’s election, moving politically to where he could get the most traction for his program.

That shift has been a disappointment at times because it enabled some of Mr. Trump’s worst impulses, and it has often left us wondering whether the Lindsey Graham we so admired can reemerge with his integrity intact in a post-Trump era. But we cannot deny that he remains a persuasive voice on national and international issues at the highest levels, and he is a powerful advocate for South Carolina.

He deserves a fourth term in the Senate.

Sen. Graham has deep knowledge on a range of issues, experience at finding solutions to complex problems and an ability to navigate choppy political waters.

All of these traits make him well-suited for our complicated times.

Sen. Graham’s influence certainly helped as he played a key role in securing funding for the deepening of Charleston Harbor, a vital project that will allow the port to maintain its competitiveness. One in 10 jobs in South Carolina is connected to the port, and Mr. Graham’s tireless work will help secure the future of one of the state’s most powerful economic engines.

He correctly backs Mr. Trump’s strong line against China for its unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property. He has long been a supporter of a strong military and a firm stand against terrorism and the troubling nuclear ambitions of Iran.

His role as Judiciary Committee chairman puts South Carolina at the head of one of the Senate’s most influential committees.

As the pandemic exposed U.S. vulnerabilities to Chinese drug manufacturers, Sen. Graham became a key supporter of bringing the medical supply chain back to the United States. He has urged passage of another major stimulus package, including help for the unemployed, businesses and school reopening, but with sensible protections for taxpayers and without unrelated policy provisions included in the House’s bill.

Mr. Graham was an early proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. He worked with a group of Democrats and Republicans that hammered out a plan to revamp the country’s myriad immigration laws. The plan also included a strategy for border security and a reasonable path to citizenship — not amnesty — for the millions of immigrants already in the country. That effort should be revived as soon as possible.

It clearly will require a new spirit of bipartisanship to solve many of the problems facing the country. And Mr. Graham has demonstrated the ability to provide that: Although he has never wavered from his conservative principles, he worked closely with then-Sen. Hillary Clinton on military issues and pushed back against his own party on waterboarding and other coercive interrogation techniques on al-Qaida prisoners.

Mr. Graham’s critics now attack him for hewing too closely to Mr. Trump, but the current occupant of the White House is not the only president Mr. Graham has aided. In a 2019 meeting with us, Mr. Graham noted that after George W. Bush defeated his friend John McCain in 2000, he worked to help President Bush succeed. And after Barack Obama defeated Sen. McCain in 2008, he worked in several areas to help President Obama succeed, particularly on immigration and the Supreme Court nominations of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.

“The one thing I’ve been consistent about is trying to be helpful,” he told us.

If Joe Biden wins the presidency, we are confident Mr. Graham will help him achieve goals that are in the best interest of the country.

The race for Mr. Graham’s seat is unexpectedly competitive. If he is defeated, there is a possibility that the presidency, the House and the Senate will be controlled by a Democratic Party that has shifted farther to the left.

With one party in control, bipartisan solutions would be even harder to achieve.

Mr. Graham’s 18 years of Senate seniority are good for South Carolina. So is his record of advocacy for our state and our nation.

It adds up to a convincing case for a fourth term for Sen. Graham.

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