“Communication, conciliation, compromise, and cooperation.” That, a sadly underrated Gerald R. Ford told a joint session of Congress three days after becoming the “accidental president” in August 1974, was his “motto for Congress.”
A year earlier, at his conformation hearings to replace Spiro T. Agnew as vice president, Ford said that “compromise is the oil that makes governments go.”
To newly elected legislators, he would often quote Thomas Huxley, “who said a century ago: ‘Sit down before facts as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion – or you shall learn nothing.'”
As of this writing, New Jersey voters had yet to choose their new senator. As of this reading, the winner likely has taken the oath of office and is beginning his on-the-job training.
While it is as yet unclear whether that person is Corey Booker or Steve Lonegan, it is very clear what are the issues that our new senator must help address.
Perhaps the biggest issue is how he can help the Senate – and the Congress as a whole – end the divisive political bickering that brought government to a standstill over the last several years and inhibited the nation’s economic recovery and growth, and begin the process of legislating for the public good.
In Wednesday’s race, the lines were clearly drawn. A moderate liberal Democrat faced a conservative libertarian Republican. The two men were as distinguishable as noon is from midnight. The business of governing, however, is not the same as the business of running for office. Our new senator now represents all the people of this state – those who voted for him, those who voted for his opponent, those who did not vote at all, and those who were not eligible to vote. He is not a candidate, but a senator, and that is how he must approach his new task.
Our nation’s greatness has been diminished by the raging seas of rancor, discord, partisanship, and distrust. We pray that our new senator plunges himself instead into the four Cs of Gerald Ford.