Tags: 2014 Midterm Elections | Democrats | Republicans

Maybe Both Parties Can Now Make Real Progress

Thursday, 06 November 2014 09:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Voters manifested their dissatisfaction with the direction of the country in recent years by electing a Republican Senate and expanding the GOP House majority as a check and balance on White House ambitions.

Progress among politicians could finally become a reality with the nation’s elected officials working together. Not to flip the lights on after the last dance, but we need to face the morning-after reality following this week’s festivities. This is still Washington, and last I checked governing is still hard work.

The new congressional majority could be tempted to exact retribution for past partisan grievances. The president could veto its initiatives to pacify his base. Neither is a solution for our nation’s ills. We need to instead turn to the radical middle, where progress is possible and success is achievable. We have been here before.

Pundits predicted the worst after President Bill Clinton lost his House and Senate majorities in 1994 after only two years in office. They described a looming politically charged environment between Clinton and incoming Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Congressional Republicans and Clinton thankfully proved them all wrong.

Debate indeed became very difficult, but they worked together on such problematic issues as welfare reform, budgeting and spending restraint. Gingrich, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and Clinton passed legislation because they understood and appreciated the difficult political process. They fought for their principles yet recognized the need for compromise to get anything done.

The situation forced them to work through the parameters established by the Founding Fathers.

With a little cooperation in the nation’s capital, the U.S. prospered. The federal budget balanced long before the experts predicted. Why? The economy grew much more rapidly than anticipated. America and Americans were better off.

Let’s hope that we see the same movie again in 2015. House Speaker John Boehner and presumed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell understand the art of politics. They nearly reached grand bargains with the administration in the past on entitlements, taxes and spending. Maybe they can even work together on fixing immigration and health care.
Anything’s possible when the middle becomes the doable.

Nobody walks away with everything they want in politics. Good governance requires working toward common ground. It isn’t easy. Clinton vetoed welfare reform twice before signing a bill into law.

Strong and steady leadership is necessary because influential constituencies among both parties try to block any forward motion. Such factions cannot rule the day. It’s easy to vote no, but it doesn’t result in anything. The American people need to provide Congress with the room to move forward and address long-term issues. They can’t wait any longer.

The incoming Senate majority leader also cannot repeat the mistakes of his soon-to-be predecessor and prevent votes on any of the more than 390 bills that the House passed over the past two years. The electorate did not tolerate it in the Democratic Senate, and it will not accept such behavior from a Republican Senate.

Neither Republicans or Democrats got everything they wanted in 1995 and 1996. America realized much of what was needed though, and that was certainty on major economic policies. U.S. leaders made progress — not on everything — but in many critical areas.
The problem-solvers largely prevailed over the doomsayers.

Once compromise becomes possible, let’s prepare for the miracles when politicians pass broad reform and stand down. It is the people who will determine the future of this great country, not the perfect policy.

Unleash the private sector by giving it the freedom and liberty to succeed or possibly fail. We can live with imperfection. We do it every day. We can’t live with a Washington — run by either Democrats or Republicans — that thinks it has all the answers.

Enable the radical middle to negotiate and accomplish something, then get everyone in Washington out of the way to ensure our lasting success.

Pete Hoekstra is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and currently a senior adviser on intelligence and national security with Greenberg Traurig, LLP, in Washington, D.C.
He represented Michigan for 18 years in Congress as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee and as a leading bipartisan voice on policy and oversight of national security, education, labor, and economic issues. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Not to flip the lights on after the last dance, but we need to face the morning-after reality following this week’s festivities. This is still Washington, and last I checked governing is still hard work.
2014 Midterm Elections, Democrats, Republicans
Thursday, 06 November 2014 09:13 AM
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