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.
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.
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
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.