Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean showed how those on opposite political sides can be polite, work together and accomplish a goal at the 2018 World Leaders Forum on Thursday at Judson University in Elgin.
Dean, the Democrat, and Gingrich, the Republican, presented “A Bipartisan Conversation About Leadership in Divided Times,” illustrating by example how to conduct themselves without rancor or name-calling.
“There’s no reason we can’t work together,” Dean said. “The best years I had as governor was when one party controlled one chamber and the other party controlled the other chamber. If I needed help reducing spending, I went to the Republicans. If I needed help with a program, I went to the Democrats.”
Gingrich praised the genius of the nation’s Founding Fathers in designing the way government would work.
“The Founding Fathers saw themselves as engineers who were trying to build a machine that was sufficiently inefficient that no dictator could make it work,” Gingrich said. “Their design was very deliberate. They feared tyranny and fought a revolutionary war. They did not want to see freedom slide back into dictatorship, so they designed this very intricate, very complicated machine.”
The process called politics, Gingrich said, is a way to sublimate civil war where passions, dreams and fears “come into this arena we call politics.”
Neither Gingrich, nor Dean said anything about President Donald Trump.
Dean said America is an exceptional country because the founders created a system in which the government works for the public and not the other way around.
George Washington turned down a third term as president because he said the office was more important than the person holding it, Dean said.
“Somewhere along the line, we lost our way,” Dean said. “The two parties have very different philosophies, but that should not stop us from moving our country forward. … I’m optimistic about the future because of our younger generation – a powerful group of socially tolerant, respectful individuals who are eager to work together.”
The real effect of partisan attacks is it cuts off a legislator’s ability to communicate with other people, Gingrich said.
“It’s very important to remember the other person is a human being, not the ‘other.’ They are not alien,” Gingrich said. “And as a human being, they deserve a chance to have their views [heard].”
Gingrich said meetings are an opportunity “to listen, learn, help and lead – in that order.”
In that format, solutions emerge, Gingrich said.