Here is an excerpt from former President Bill Clinton’s nominating speech at the Democratic convention last night, extolling the virtues of cooperation over constant conflict (The full transcript of the speech, as delivered, can be found here):
[T]hough I 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 in his White House on the first round of welfare reform and with President George H.W. Bush on national education goals. I’m actually very grateful . . . that President George W. Bush supported PEPFAR. It saved the lives of millions of people in poor countries. And I have been honored 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 both in America and around the world, I’m working 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 and not fighting all the time.
And — 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.
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.
Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict? Because nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.
And every one of us — 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 hopefully we’re right more than twice a day.
Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is always the enemy, they’re always right, and compromise is weakness. Just in the last couple of elections, they defeated two distinguished Republican senators because they dared to cooperate with Democrats on issues important to the future of the country, even national security. They beat a Republican congressman with almost 100 percent voting record on every conservative
score because he said he realized he did not have to hate the president to disagree with him. Boy, that was a non-starter, and they threw him out.
One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation. Look at his record. He appointed Republican secretaries of defense, the Army, and transportation. He appointed a vice president who ran against him in 2008. And he trusted that vice president to oversee the successful end of the war in Iraq and the implementation of the Recovery Act. . . .President Obama appointed several members of his cabinet, even though they supported Hillary in the primary. Heck, he even appointed Hillary.
I am proud of the job she and the national security team have done for America. I am grateful that they have worked together to make it safer and stronger to build a world with more partners and fewer enemies. I’m grateful for the relationship of respect and partnership she and the president have enjoyed. And the signal that sends to the rest of the world, that democracy does not have to be a blood sport, it can be an honorable enterprise that advances the public interest.