Lanny J Davis & Michael Steele
Monday, we announced that we would be working together in a new company focused on bipartisan solutions in Washington. The reaction on the Internet on the left and right has been — surprise! — personal attacks, bile, blatant false accusations.
Exactly proving our point.
It’s time to change the game.
We’re from different parties, with widely diverging political philosophies, supporting different candidates.
We, like the American people, are divided on many things. We don’t agree, for example, about raising taxes, repealing health care reform, legalizing gay marriage or other issues that divide liberals and conservatives.
But we share a strong passion for what the country needs. Polls show that most of the American people agree: They want to hear Obama and Romney debate the issues and tell us their solutions — not attack each other.
Over the past 10 years, we have watched political leaders in Washington free-fall from one decision to the next. Whether on jobs, our nation’s debt, spending cuts or entitlement programs, the partisan excuses, outright misrepresentations and the blame game have grown old.
As the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns gear up, it is already assumed that the American people will just accept the inevitable bile of negative, personal attack ads (after all, “they work”) and half-truths about each candidate and his record.
During the Republican nomination campaign, Romney ran an ad last November taking Obama’s statements about the economy during the 2008 presidential campaign out of context, distorting their meaning. Obama had actually been quoting Sen. John McCain.
When asked, Mr. Romney replied, “What’s sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander.”
The Obama campaign recently ran a misleading ad, saying Mr. Romney’s leadership at Bain Capital caused the loss of jobs after the steel company it had acquired went bankrupt. Then the truth came out that Romney had left Bain two years before this bankruptcy. In fact, the person in charge of Bain at the time is now a big Obama fundraiser.
The partisan game of “gotcha” and outright misrepresentations has grown old and, frankly, we’re sick of it. As Newark Mayor Cory Booker, talking about misleading, personal attack ads on both sides, said recently, they are “nauseating. … Enough is enough.”
We urge both campaigns to repudiate these negative personal attack ads and, instead, instruct their campaigns to tell us the candidates’ ideas and specific answers to the problems that Americans care about most.
The American people want a great debate between Obama and Romney on big solutions for the economy, health care, Social Security and Medicare. They want to hear about each candidate’s ideas that could spur the private sector to create more jobs; address the problems of the poor and seniors; reduce our $15 trillion national debt and ensure the long-term solvency of Social Security and Medicare.
For too long, too many have preyed on the fears of red and blue America. But now is the opportunity for Obama and Romney to embrace the hopes of a purple nation.
We are not talking about some mushy center, standing for nothing. Instead, we are talking about how their leadership can bring principled liberals and conservatives together at a time when the country is seeking good ideas from both sides forged on common ground and anchored by consensus.
America needs this kind of campaign now more than ever.
This election is about the future of our nation: Whether our government can work or not. Whether we and our children can have hope for jobs and prosperity in the future and for peaceful relations between nations.
It’s time for a presidential campaign that brings us together — not divides us. That way, the American people will be the real winners this November.
We are ready to change the game. How about you?
Lanny Davis, who served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton, is a liberal Democrat who supports President Barak Obama. He is a Fox News Channel contributor.
Michael Steele, who formerly served as chairman of the Republican National Committee, is a conservative who supports former Gov. Mitt Romney. He is an MSNBC political analyst. They are partners in “Purple Nation Solutions,” a bipartisan public affairs and strategic communications firm.