Congress to Campus

I always enjoy returning to my alma mater, Rhode Island College, and my most recent visit for the “Congress to Campus” conference was a truly engaging experience. Nearly 100 students turned out for a discussion about the role bipartisanship plays in Congress, and I was very pleased to participate in that conversation with two of my former Congressional colleagues, Loretta Sanchez from California and Gil Gutknecht from Minnesota.

Although we have different political views, all of us agree that bipartisanship is a fundamental and necessary ingredient to governing. During the nearly two-hour discussion, each of us described how changes in the political climate have polarized the parties and made cooperation more difficult.

Lawmaking is a slow process, but in order to govern, we need healthy debate tempered by proper deliberation and the ability to negotiate in good faith to reach a fair compromise. When politicians are willing to hold the government hostage or subvert regular order to get their way, it’s just dysfunction, plain and simple.

I believe we can remain true to our ideals and still reach agreement when we’re willing to work together. That’s why I always strive to work across the aisle engage with my colleagues to find consensus wherever and whenever I can. Further, we must be willing to contribute productively to the public discourse, and that’s exactly what the students at this forum did.

I was so impressed by the questions these students asked us, and I look forward to following their efforts to improve civility in politics.