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Gary DeLong - In Addition
LBBJ: Is there anything else that you would like to bring up that we haven’t discussed?
DeLong: The issue of bipartisanship and compromise is probably the No. 1 difference between us. I think Alan is a very nice guy. We’re not politically on the same end of the spectrum, but he is a very nice man. I don’t think that there’s any doubt that if he gets there, he will go with Pelosi and the crew, and he’s going to be one of the votes. I don’t see any scenario where that doesn’t happen. I’m not criticizing him. We are all who we are. I tend to be a bit of a maverick. That’s who I am. If the leadership says to go right, I have a tendency to say, “Why? What for?” It’s not that it’s a bad direction, but why? I do earnestly believe that the gridlock is killing us, and both parties are guilty. If you are a Republican, I suppose you think that the Democrats are a little bit guiltier than the Republicans. If you are a Democrat, you think that Republicans are more obstructionist than the Democrats are. But hopefully none of us think it’s 100 percent the other party. Otherwise we’re living in la-la land. I think in order to make that change – I don’t know if attack is the right word – but you need to attack your own party first. Everybody can attack the other party. That’s easy. But you need to come at your own party first and say, “Come on. We need to blink.”
Every Sunday night I have a phone call with one of the congressmen to review some of the legislation that happened last week and some things that are going to happen next week so that when a reporter asks a question, at least I have some understanding of what happened and why. This started after the primary. The representative spends about 15 minutes discussing the legislation and then there’s a Q&A at the end. After one such call, I asked, “You mentioned that it passed on a partisan vote. I’m curious – what would you have had to do to deal, compromise, trade away in order to make it a bipartisan bill?” There’s this pregnant pause, and I’m thinking, “You never thought of that, did you?” Why should they? They had the votes. Why would they meet with the other side if they had the votes? In the short term, I understand his thinking. But if your endgame is to really solve some problems, it’s a lot easier [to compromise] on some of this little stuff that you’re not too passionate about. Make the compromises on the little stuff. Generate a little positive feeling between you and a member of the other party, and then when you come to something really big you can work on it together. Then you can say, “You know, there is all this little stuff you and I were able to work together on. Let’s try and take on Medicare or Social Security, some really big deal, and see if our relationship can weather the storm.”
LBBJ: Hasn’t Gary DeLong, in the last eight years, moved more toward the center?
DeLong: Yes. Absolutely. Not so much in political ideology, though. I’ve come from being a small business owner for many years – working for corporate America before that – I got to call the shots. It’s completely different in government. You go from calling the shots, no matter what size your enterprise, to learning how to collaborate, to build consensus, how to get five votes and considering what the mayor thinks. This is a very different environment than running a business. So that’s probably what’s changed me. I’ve got to make sure that this neighborhood association and that business group is on board. I worry a lot more about the stakeholders. Before, I would go from here to there, and I would say it’s a straight line. It’s not a straight line anymore. I have to go this way and that way, and when I have enough concensus then I’m there. Bipartisanship is a word that everybody likes to throw around these days. I’m willing to actually do it. That’s one of the core differences.
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