Our legacy compels us to honor the idea of crossing the political aisle to get things done, whether it be in Washington, DC or in any of the states of this nation. The Jackson Foundation has held a number of sessions promoting civil discourse, with a particular emphasis on bipartisanship in the U.S. Congress and civic engagement and respectful dialogue here at home in Seattle, Washington. Earlier this week we held a packed, public forum with Seattle CityClub where we combined our two target areas, featuring U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-Washington State) and Dave Reichert (R-Washington State) in conversation with long-time political journalist Robert Mak. Enjoy the full dialogue below:
Congressmen Kilmer and Reichert reflected on the obstacles to political progress on issues from solving the budget deficit to finding common ground on affordable health care. Both stressed that voting for what is right – rather than just blindly following party allegiances – helps to center them in their work on the Hill. “I’m a thinker,” Reichert stressed, “and I use my skills learned from when I was a detective to figure out the facts on an issue. That helps lead me to where I can take a stand.” Kilmer, who has only been on the Hill for a few years, meets monthly with a bipartisan group of his peers to seek consensus, and, presumably, friendship that allows bonds to form beyond political ideologies and interests. “When people ask me if I am frustrated by gridlock on the Hill, I tell them that I don’t think that’s an acceptable reaction,” Kilmer explained. “I am motivated. I intend to accomplish something. I am not interested in wasting time.”
Both lawmakers impressed the crowd. The gathering was intended to highlight how the Washington State delegation can serve as a model for civil discourse in today’s fractured political environment.