President Reagan was a visionary. Few of his contemporaries gave him credit, but history has judged our 40th President as such. On his desk in the Oval Office sat a plaque that read: "There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit." President Reagan lived by these words. He used them to fortify cross-party coalitions and Congress would be wise to keep this lesson in mind as we chart a course forward, as one nation, on replacing Obamacare.
Undoubtedly, the political mandate is there for Republicans. Over the past eight years, Democrats oversaw the loss of thousands of elected positions occupied by their party in Washington and in state houses across America. No small part of these defeats stemmed from their solely partisan attempt to launch an ill-fated $1 trillion overhaul of our healthcare system.
Now more than ever, America is in need of leaders who respect that their own lawmaking powers, bestowed onto them by the Constitution, derive from the will of the American people, not from political pundits and front-page news coverage. President Trump successfully tapped into this energy with his campaign. We require statesmen (and women!) on Capitol Hill who follow his lead and understand that their success is the success of the entire nation.
The Party of Lincoln must be mindful, however, that our nation’s strongest leaders have accomplished great feats and enacted sweeping legislation by caring less about credit and more about progress.
President George Washington strived only to create a sustaining democracy and truly did not concern himself with who would receive the credit. In fact, he did not even desire to be the first president, but he accepted the challenge when he was unanimously selected. Additionally, when Washington completed two terms, he decided not to seek a third, guiding the country through its first peaceful transfer of power.
President Abraham Lincoln also demonstrated this type of leadership during the Civil War by prioritizing the preservation of the Union above all else. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln stated, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Lincoln never made the Civil War about himself or the office he held, but rather, about the American people and the endangerment of democracy and freedom.
A recent example of this type of leadership is President George W. Bush’s work with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Although foreign aid was not popular among Republicans, President Bush launched PEPFAR in 2003 to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the continent of Africa. President Bush’s work saved 12 million lives and protected 2 million babies, born to HIV infected mothers, from contracting HIV. President Bush continued his work with PEPFAR after his presidency and advocated for its funding in a recent op-ed published in The Washington Post, where he credited the program’s success to the American people, writing, "The American people deserve credit for this tremendous success and should keep going until the job is done."
An opportunity for today’s lawmakers to follow in the steps of our nation’s greatest leaders, by placing the best interests of the country before their own political ambitions, is with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The health care debate is stimulating and passionate on both sides of the aisle. However, with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, the party must deliver on its campaign promises.
Last week, Senator Mike Enzi urged Senate Republicans to set aside disagreements and vote to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. During the past two election cycles, the American people have made their position clear — they elected Republican leaders to reform the country’s healthcare system with common sense solutions. Now it is time for Republicans to set aside political conjecture, build consensus, and vote in support of replacing Obamacare so that millions of American families can receive the health care they need.
On President Reagan’s desk in the Oval Office sat a second small plaque that read, "It CAN Be Done." Reagan kept it next to the first plaque as a reminder that persuading Washington to put the interests of the American people first would not be easy, but he should persevere regardless. If we want to repeal and replace Obamacare, we can, quite simply, It CAN Be Done...but only if we are willing to adhere to Reagan’s other plaque on caring less about credit and more about righting Obamacare’s wrongs.
Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen, the world's largest breast cancer charity, has served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary, U.S. chief of protocol, and as a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control to the U.N.'s World Health Organization. She is continuing her work in efforts to end death from cancer. The opinions expressed here belong solely to the author. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.
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