Our December newsletter is normally a place where we reflect on all that has happened over the past 12 months and look with optimism to the year ahead. Presidential election years have a way of sharpening differences and elevating anxiety, sometimes making thoughtful contemplation difficult. In a year marked by political animosity and division, it’s important to remember that optimism is a subjective perception. We all respond to facts through our own prism. Acknowledging that we see issues differently and that we hold the power as citizens to peacefully change government are what makes our nation what its founders envisioned 240 years ago.
When I was in elected office, I recognized that everyone serving with me was chosen by their constituents to advance certain goals and bring forward new ideas. This was also the view of my father as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and was most evident following the election of President Reagan in 1980. Speaker O’Neill understood that the new President had earned the opportunity to attempt to enact his agenda and to let those new policies – and their results – define the debate.
With the White House and Congress unified by party, we expect quick movement across a number of policy fronts – most of which will require some degree of compromise at every level. However, the common ground of compromise is much easier when the exchange of ideas is honest and bipartisan. The influence of fake news and foreign meddling makes the notion of compromise harder, and reminds us that democracy requires vigilance and care.
We are far less amicable with our political opponents at the federal level than we were during my father’s tenure as Speaker. Fortunately for the Commonwealth, state leaders from both parties have remained focused on policy and progress, while maintaining appropriate partisanship. Advancing opportunity is usually a fundamental for elected office holders. This mindset has kept Massachusetts economically prosperous and a place of opportunity for all of its residents. Perhaps we are stronger because of our historical affinity for fair and good government. No matter the reason, we are a model more should emulate. Let’s commit to requiring the same from Washington.
On behalf of all of us at O’Neill and Associates, I wish you and your family a happy and healthy New Year.