Two very different events occurred in Washington this week -- one at the White House and the other in the House; one involved a Republican, the other a Democrat. Surprisingly, their messages were very similar.
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) laid out what he needed from his republican colleagues -- the most important being unity -- if he was going to consent to their request that he run for Speaker of the House. After he shared his proposal with his colleagues, he called for an end to "the divisive partisan politics that is ripping this country apart."
In his public statement, Ryan noted:
It is our duty to serve the people the way they deserve to be served. It is our duty to make the tough decisions this country needs to get back on track. The challenges we face today are too difficult and demanding for us to turn our backs and walk away.
Global terror . . . wars on multiple fronts . . . a government grown unaccountable, unconstitutional, and out-of-touch . . . persistent poverty, a sluggish economy, flat wages, and a sky-rocketing debt.
But we cannot take them on alone. Now, more than ever, we must work together. All of us are representatives of the people -- all the people. We have been entrusted by them to lead.
Vice President Joe Biden announced Wednesday, that he was not going to run for president. In doing so, he spoke a great deal about his hopes for the future of our country and some of the issues he feels strongly belong on the nation's priority list. He stated that elected officials have to work together, not just with those of their own political party. As he put it "I don't think we should look at Republicans as our enemies. They are our opposition, they are not our enemies."
The vice president also noted that for the sake of the country "we have to work together. As the president said many times, compromise is not a dirty word. But look at it this way, folks, how does this country function without consensus? How can we move forward without being able to arrive at consensus? Four more years of this kind of pitched battle may be more than this country can take. We have to change it."
Here are two men who have strong records of working across the aisle on some of the most difficult issues facing our country. If Ryan does, in fact, become Speaker, he and the Vice President, will find themselves at the center of all the big issues. Biden has a first-hand understanding of the pressures that Ryan will be under from his caucus and his chamber. And Ryan has proven that he can work across party lines to make deals, just as he did on the Murray-Ryan budget.
Here are two leaders who believe there is a time to argue and debate and a time to move forward. Perhaps, if the Republican Caucus accepts Ryan's "must have" list, we will have a Speaker and a Vice President who can work together to find solutions. For as the Vice President noted, Washington, "instead of being the problem, it has to become part of the solution, again. We have to be one America, again."