Civility is Not Weakness
By Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2)
In 2010, US News published an article titled, “Tip O’Neill and Reagan and Model for Breaking Partisan Gridlock.” It highlighted the efforts made by Speaker Tip O’Neill and President Ronald Reagan to elevate the well-being of the country above the political priorities of their parties.
In the article, Rep. Frank Wolf said: “You have to develop the relationship before bipartisanship. A lot of [relationship building] was done after hours. [Reagan and O’Neill] got together, they broke bread, they told stories and they did things that… helped… to make some accomplishments.”
There is a lot to be said for these two men. They disagreed, sometimes sharply. At times they publicly fought, yet they found common ground, and the country benefited from that.
During the Reagan years inflation decreased from 12.5% in 1980 to 4.4% in 1988, and unemployment decreased from 10.8% in 1982 to 5.3% in 1988. The economy improved, and the United States was viewed as the world’s economic leader. I am certain that none of these accomplishments would have been realized if these two leaders had allowed the country to be paralyzed by legislative gridlock.
We are first, foremost, and always Americans. We must not forget there is far more that binds us together than separates us, though often obscured by clouds of partisanship. Common ground surely exists. For the future of our great Republic we must find that common ground, and soon.