Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Gentlemen of the House

Imagine a politician who valued compromise over controversy, whose candor was refreshing and never nasty. Imagine a politician who worked effortlessly with his own party and the opposition party. Now, imagine that politician is the Speaker of the House of Representatives. It may seem a distant memory given the recent turmoil in Washington, D.C., but two decades ago the tenure of one such Speaker of the House came to a close and with it the existence of compromise.

That politician was former Speaker of the House Tom Foley (D-Washington).

Imagine a politician that opposed abortion rights, was an adamant supporter of the Second Amendment and actually voted against President Obama's chief legislative achievement while still losing his seat in the next election. All of this as a member of the Democratic Party. Imagine a politician whose legacy will forever be his dedication to the men and women who serve this nation in uniform and his chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee as this country took a new direction in two wars.

That politician was former Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Missouri).

In the last two weeks this country lost two dedicated public servants who truly put their love of country and their belief that they were making decisions in her best interest above all else. Both men put that belief above partisanship, reaching across the aisle to work with colleagues who may not have shared their ideology, but shared their dedication to the greater good.

Over the last several weeks we have had a front row seat to a dysfunction in Congress that brought this country to the brink of breaching the debt ceiling and shutdown the government over established law that a small minority believed should be halted. Whether Tom Foley or Ike Skelton would have made the difference in the brokered deal or even in the days leading up to the shutdown itself we will never know. But as hard as it is to imagine politicians like Foley and Skelton, it is even harder to imagine that this nation wouldn't be better with more like them serving it.

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