Five Americans Who Could Break the Gridlock on Capitol Hill

Abstract: Over the last two years, Americans have watched in frustration as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have demonstrated an inability to work together. Could anyone break the gridlock? Here are five Americans who might be able to get the job done.

Over the last two years, Americans have watched in frustration as Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have demonstrated an inability to work together to solve the nation's problems. Their infighting has pushed the United States to the edge of a financial crisis on more than one occasion and has stalled the passage of several important bills, including a highway bill and a farm bill.

The White House (1)
Speaker of the House John Boehner, a Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, have had difficulty in convincing their fractious colleagues to pass important bipartisan legislation. Could anyone do a better job?

Here are five Americans, living and dead, who just might be able to break the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973)

During his more than three decades in politics, Johnson, a Democrat, served in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, as vice-president, and as president of the United States. He is remembered as a superb deal-maker. Johnson's greatest accomplishments came when, as U.S. president, he convinced the Senate and House to pass the Civil Rights Act, to establish Medicare and Medicaid, and to provide federal funding to help people pay for college. If anyone could push bipartisan legislation through the fractious House and Senate, it would be Johnson. Of course, that assumes that Republicans are able to forgive him for creating some of the nation's largest entitlement programs. Given his political affiliation, Johnson would stand a better chance as Senate majority leader.

Henry Clay (1777-1852)

During a political career which spanned almost five decades, Clay, a native of Virginia, served in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. He began his career as a member of the Democratic Republican Party and ended it as a Whig (the forerunner of the Republican Party). Clay served six terms as speaker of the House and also spent time in the Senate. He was a brilliant negotiator who managed to broker several important agreements between anti-slavery and pro-slavery factions during his tenure on Capitol Hill. Clay's views might be a bit antiquated. Nonetheless, he would be an excellent choice for speaker of the House (or perhaps Senate majority leader) if he were alive.

Jack Welch, Jr. (1935- )

Welch was General Electric Corporation's CEO and chairman from 1981-2001. In this position, Welch successfully captained a massive corporation, which dabbled in everything from healthcare to financial services. During his tenure as leader of GE, Welch did a superb job in motivating and appeasing GE's diverse workforce. As a testament to his accomplishments, GE's market value increased from $14 billion to $410 billion under his guidance. If Welch could successfully manage a large multinational corporation, he should be able to deal with a few hundred squabbling politicians. Welch does not even have to run for Congress in order to secure a job as speaker of the House in 2015.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

If he were alive, Benjamin Franklin would make an excellent candidate for either speaker of the House or Senate majority leader. One of our nation's founders, Franklin was a brilliant negotiator. During the Revolutionary War, Franklin used his diplomatic prowess to help the United States secure aid from France and to broker the peace treaty with Britain. Franklin also played a pivotal role in convincing state representatives (to the Constitutional Convention) to sign their names to the Constitution.

Herbert Hoover (1874-1964)

As speaker of the House, the former U.S. president would appeal to conservative Republicans, as he was an advocate of small government. Republicans who criticize Boehner for his willingness to compromise the party's core principles would love Hoover. While he did ask Congress to lend some support to struggling families, President Hoover held fast to most of his free market beliefs in the face of the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in America's history. Hoover might be willing to let the United States head over a fiscal cliff rather than compromise with Democrats. As speaker of the House, Hoover would likely achieve results; they just might not be the outcomes many Americans hoped for.

1. Author: Ed Brown
    Date: May 6, 2005
    Title/Description: View of the North Portico and North Lawn of the White House, residence of the
                               President of the United States.
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - Author's note releasing the photo into the public domain
                                     (click on title/link to see photo, credits, permissions).

The author is a freelance writer and has a B.A. in History from Roanoke College.

#politics #history #U.S. #Americanhistory #presidents #politicians #business #Congress #Senate

-- Anthony Hopper

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