There’s something I’ve noticed lately, you probably have too. Maybe just because I grew up in a different time, but though often disagree with Republicans, I actually never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate our President and a lot of other Democrats.
That would be impossible for me, because President Eisenhower sent federal troops to my home state to integrate Little Rock Central High School. President Eisenhower built the interstate highway system. When I was a governor, I worked with President Reagan and his White House on the first round of welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I have to be grateful, and you should be too, that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR (the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries. And I have been honoured to work with both Presidents Bush on natural disasters in the aftermath of the South Asian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, the horrible earthquake in Haiti.
Through my foundation in America and around the world, I work all the time with Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Sometimes I couldn’t tell you for the life who I’m working with because we focus on solving problems and seizing opportunities, not fighting all the time.
So here’s what I want to say to you, and here’s what I want the people at home to think about: when times are tough, and people are frustrated and angry and hurting and uncertain, the politics of constant conflict may be good. But what is good politics does not necessarily work in the real world. What works in the real world is cooperation. Business and government, foundations and universities. Ask the mayors who are here. Los Angeles is getting green and Chicago is getting an infrastructure bank because Republicans and Democrats are working together to get it. They didn’t check their brains at the door. They didn’t stop disagreeing. But their purpose was to get something done.
Why does cooperation work better than conflict? Because nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. And every one of us and every one of them, we’re compelled to spend our fleeting lives between those two extremes, knowing we’re never going to be right all the time and hoping we’re right more than twice a day.