While the nation's capital is at its most divided, a cadre of Republicans and Democrats -- refugees from earlier administrations -- is quietly reaching over political divides to get the nation's work done.
Despite the loud rhetoric from both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, there are a core group of us who have served in multiple administrations, who hail from industries outside of Washington, who hold different points of view, who find ways to collaborate...
“Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it,” Mark Twain wryly noted. His observation is shared by many across the political spectrum with whom I have worked.
The efforts I have worked on employ the principles of bipartisanship common in so many areas beyond politics -- in the office, at the doctor’s office, at the playground, at church and at home. We focus on personal consideration, listening and respect. We know that if we want succeed, we can’t expect others to approach the problem in the identical way, so it becomes imperative to do things differently. Turn the idea on its head. Think of new paths and be bold.
We politely keep commentary to ourselves unless it’s relevant to the discussion at hand. We focus on fixing the problem--no rat holes are allowed. Tension may reign at the beginning of each relationship as battle lines are quickly drawn and cynicism prevails, but soon data-driven progress brings a continuity of results, a collegial environment and a celebration of success. Over dinner or on the Acela, good humor prevails as we find ourselves sharing stories and learning about each other’s children, grandchildren, lives and challenges. We agree to disagree but commit to the facilitation of success. We become friends.
Ronald Reagan won the nation over with his sunny optimism. But we are in danger of losing the graciousness that Reagan epitomized in political discourse if we don’t pause and remember that the shouting on cable TV and the blogosphere is not the whole picture by a long shot.
Bipartisanship is not dead. It is alive, certainly not as well as it could be, and in need of further nurturing.