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Finding Common Ground Then & Now: Let’s Put Country Before Party

No doubt, these are challenging times. But in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic there are signs of hope – like legislators of both parties voting unanimously to pass the largest economic package in our country’s history. How can we keep this spirit of cooperation going?

For some key lessons for this pivotal moment, we looked back at highlights from a 2013 forum on how President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O’Neill transcended a fierce political rivalry to create a bipartisan working relationship

Finding Common Ground Then & Now: Lessons from President Reagan & House Speaker Tip O’Neill

As the nation’s leading conservative and a classic liberal, these two leaders held very different ideological views. But several key factors made it possible for them to work together to make progress on important issues like stabilizing Social Security and reforming the tax code, including:

  • A common background and time spent together socially, which opened the lines for regular one-on-one communication
  • A shared experience as part of a World War II generation that thought of themselves, first and foremost, as staunch Americans
  • A sense of urgency to not just make speeches that appealed to their bases, but to deliver the goods by creating policies to benefit all Americans
  • A willingness to persuade allies to make concessions for the sake of progress

Today, our leaders no longer share the common experience of having lived through a world war that inspires citizens to put country before party. Yet the moment we are now living through is creating a new shared experience that calls us to set aside differences, and work for the collective well-being of every American.

As leaders, citizens and neighbors, let’s seize this moment to build on this spirit of cooperation by putting our focus on rising above party politics, and seeking ways to advance the common good.