Leadership At The Crossroads

November’s historic midterm elections delivered us to a crossroads in American politics. As happens at crossroads, we’re presented four choices.

Well, three choices: We can’t go backward. Although the White House continues to double down on the failed, divisive policies from the past — headlines over the last several days on immigration, foreign policy, climate change, and the economy make the point — going backward isn’t the American way. We have a responsibility to learn from the past and do better in the future.

A hard turn to the right or left would only serve to continue the cycle of division and stalemate that’s prioritized special interest over the interests of our country and its citizens for the last quarter century.

To deliver on the promise of the midterms — and to ensure they’re a productive first step toward healing our nation and not leveraged as a stepping stone to the 2020 elections — the only option is straight ahead, full speed and together.

Success will require leadership and the vision, vigor, and commitment to proceed unencumbered by traditional partisan scorekeeping.

Yesterday, Democratic leadership races in the US House will be resolved in anticipation of a full House vote for Speaker in January. The results will allow a first assessment of the new majority’s ability and inclination to overcome partisanship and make progress on the challenges of our time: immigration, climate change, health care, and common sense gun reform.

They will also provide some indication of Democrats’ commitment to build bipartisan consensus to productively address these issues, hold the President accountable, and keep the Senate at the table.

Under the best of circumstances, it won’t be an easy task. Under current leadership, it may be impossible. As it looks right now, the Democrats leadership will look the same as it has for a very long time. I hope for all Americans that I am wrong, but I am afraid the Democrats choice for leadership is more of the same.

However, if the “People’s House” is truly a representative body and incoming House leadership is mindful of America’s growing expectation of collaboration, consultation, and compromise, it can turn those first steps into great strides toward reconciling the divisions in our country.

It is up to all of us — and each of us — to ensure 2020 doesn’t become the consuming and partisan focus of the incoming 116th Congress. Lead by example: collaborate, consult, and compromise in your communities and on the issues that matter.

And then demand they do the same in Washington.

Joseph Kopser is the President of Grayline Group and a former Democratic candidate for the 21st Congressional District of Texas. In early 2019, he will introduce Texas Tomorrow, an initiative to strengthen Texas communities.