Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Setting the Table in Washington

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

As President Obama hosts yet another bipartisan dinner — one in early March and the latest, a steak and greens feast at the White House, last Wednesday— I can’t help but recall that over the years, I too have hosted many similar dinners at my home. Most often these dinners are with our elected officials from both sides of the aisle. The idea is a good one: it encourages substantive dialogue, can often form friendships and can show us that a lot of the time, we might not disagree as much as we lead on.

But, to be frank, a few nice dinners between Republicans and Democrats isn’t enough to bridge the divides that exist in American politics today.

At my most recent dinner, I found myself having the same conversation over and over again with Republicans and Democrats alike. First, they’re all torn between the constituents who voted them into office, and Washington, where business continues as usual. Second, a lot of times they are torn between trying to govern and risking a backlash from extremists in their own party.

While engaging in dialogue over dinner once or twice every few months is a positive, our leaders in the Executive Branch and Congress need to reinstate a process that affords policy makers the opportunity to deliberate and engage in a legislative structure aligned with what our founders intended.

We need to reexamine what our committee structure has become. I believe the best bills for the most amount of people follow a grassroots approach, arising first from the subcommittee level and working from the bottom up, not the top down. Working from the rank and file legislators on up develops in-depth policy knowledge from committee members and allows for committee chairs and ranking members to exert influence over topics that they know more intimately than party leadership.

Even as the leader of the House, Speaker Boehner often speaks about restoring order to this process. We need more of that willingness from more members. Both parties will often recall the days where committee chairs and members of the Executive branch enjoyed great relationships, even in a divided government. That sort of thing is non-existent today.

The continuous campaign remains one of the deepest thorns in the side of bipartisanship. The looming threat from each side makes it almost impossible to take political risks and the very foundation for bipartisanship, trusting relationships across the aisle, is becoming a thing of the past.

The Executive branch must build better relations on Capitol Hill. Over the past twenty years, both parties have done a poor job of this while in the White House. Better relations between the two bodies are essential to promoting understanding and trust, which will lead toward more meaningful dialogue.

Hopefully President Obama will invite not only Republicans but his cabinet members to the table as well. He must encourage his cabinet to have better relationships with Congress and more of them. Those same cabinet members must also be willing to visit the hill and advocate on his behalf. If he wants to pass any considerable policy in the next three years, he has no other choice.

Setting the table is one thing, keeping people at it for the hard work is entirely another.  Dinner is a start but a restored legislative process with an engaged president and cabinet will be required before we finally address our nation’s problems in a meaningful way.


The Future of the Republican Party of Virginia

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

A few months ago, I accepted the post of Finance Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. I’d like to share a little bit about why I accepted that position, and the Fred Malek Blog gives me a good opportunity to do so.

I believe very strongly in the importance of the Republican Party of Virginia, because I believe that Virginia is a crucial state for Republican Presidential candidates. If Republicans cannot win Virginia, then we cannot win the Presidency. To keep Virginia in the (political) Red, we absolutely have to rebuild our Party here in Virginia in order to give it the structure and leadership it needs to make our case to the people of the Commonwealth.

While then-RPV Chairman Ed Gillespie initially persuaded me to take this role, the people I have watched since then have only strengthened my resolve and my enthusiasm. The competence and dedication of other leaders in our Party has been impressive – from Lt. Gov Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell, to the members of the Central Committee and the District Chairs, to my Finance Co-Chair Lisa Gable and the many others who have stepped forward to help.

While Ed Gillespie’s resignation to become Counselor to the President seemed like a loss, I now believe we are in best shape ever due to the impressive leadership of the aforementioned people, and two other important people:

  • Former Lt. Gov. John Hager, who was elected RPV Chair, is a dedicated public servant. He resigned his position as Assistant Secretary of Education to take on the RPV Chair position where he will work full time without pay. That kind of dedication, combined with his leadership and competence will show great results for the RPV.
  • Charlie Judd is an exceptional Executive Director, with the experience, judgment, and staff to run one of the finest state political organizations in the country.

So where do we go with this tremendous team?

  1. Our first priority is this Fall’s State Assembly and Senate races, where Democrats are making a full on assault to achieve majority in one or both of these chambers.
  2. This must be followed by attention to Congressional, Senate, and Presidential races in 2008.

This team, led by John Hager, has the ability to make the Party of Lincoln the majority party in Virginia for years to come. I’m excited to be a part of this, and excited to keep Virginia in the Republican column for a long, long time.