Clement: Consensus will be key

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 10:00pm
By Bob Clement

The incoming GOP group of 60-plus new members of the U.S. Congress will make up the largest freshman class since World War II. They could exercise enormous clout if they work together.

On Capitol Hill, strength in numbers is essential if you hope to make changes as representatives in the U.S. House. But the question is — can the new members accomplish anything because of their campaign stance?

During this political season, many of the candidates who won took the position that they will fight the system on Capitol Hill. They also promised their voters more jobs and an improved economy. Many vowed to overhaul, or even repeal, the new health care reform law.

But here’s the reality the new members will face. Imagine working in an office of 435 employees where everyone has the same job description and none of your co-workers can fire you. To make matters more complicated, each employee reports to an off-site boss (their constituents). So these workers must achieve their goals by creating alliances to get a majority vote. Sometimes that means coming to a consensus with people who have different opinions and philosophies. That scenario describes how Congress works.

So the political parties elect leaders in the House and the Senate to move these coalitions toward their goals. In the past, Republicans leaders have done a better job than Democrats in presenting a cohesive message. But now with the new Tea Party influence, House Republican leaders face the same problems with managing factions in their ranks that Democrats have historically experienced. I have found over the years compromise is necessary to get anything accomplished, which is difficult for many members to accept.

If the next Congress, both old and new members, insist on stressing their political views more than cooperating to achieve common solutions, nothing will be accomplished. Both the Congress and the administration could face two years of deadlock. But voters demand results. We all want an improved economy, more jobs, and a better future for our families. Building consensus for the sake of progress is going to be a major challenge for the next Congress, but it is absolutely essential. 

Bob Clement is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Tennessee's 5th District. He now serves as president of Clement & Associates.

19 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 11/9/10 at 7:05

While the points made are all Noble in words and thoughts,
I'm afraid they come about 1 yr too late after the experiences
the now majority have gone through over the last 2-4 yrs!

By: dargent7 on 11/10/10 at 6:45

If this is the LTE de jour, then...anyone else want to smash their TV's when GW Bush comes on 'defending" his actions, / "decisions"?

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 7:37

I beleive this is called lip service.

By: bfra on 11/10/10 at 8:02

GWB is still the joke, he has always been. He has added McCain to his blame list, also. Everything wrong, was everybody's fault, but his!

People from TN didn't learn, we now have a gov., that bought the office.

By: bfra on 11/10/10 at 8:03

Morning Nemo, hope it is a good one. Saw your sunrise on yesterday's letter!

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 9:48

By the way, happy birthday USMC...Semper Fi

By: brrrrk on 11/10/10 at 10:19

dargent7 said

"If this is the LTE de jour, then...anyone else want to smash their TV's when GW Bush comes on 'defending" his actions, / "decisions"?"

I hear it's a pretty fair price.... but you still have to buy your own crayons.

By: GUARDIAN on 11/10/10 at 10:24

GUARDIAN-First of all I want to wish a 235th Happy Birthday to the USMC...Semper Fi ...Now I want to say hello to Bob (Bobby) who should be mayor of Nashville...All those years ago when you visited Roane County when we were boys I knew one day you would be Governor of Tennessee MONEY robbed you 3 times of that office. It broke my heart when MONEY robbed you of the office of Mayor of Nashville. You would of been the best man for both of those offices. Bob money alone can't win office these days. That's the only thing obummer has given to the democrat party. Washington will be a battle ground and all the old rules are out. The people are taking back the country so please run again. You may be the last honest democrat left standing.

By: bfra on 11/10/10 at 10:30

Guardian - You are so right! My vote went for Bob Clement and IMO Nashville would be a much better place had he won. This carpetbagger, willing to sell Nashville to the highest bidder, is a joke.

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 10:48

I voted for Bob Boner. I mean, come on...a politician named Boner...could there be a more perfect union?

By: house_of_pain on 11/10/10 at 11:01

I remember a guy named Fuddpucker running for something around here, when I was a kid.

By: GUARDIAN on 11/10/10 at 11:05

GUARDIAN-The Clement family served this state with HONOR and may be the only honor Tennessee has seen out of the democrat party since the time of Jackson. Andy would be proud. I have never been a Republican but I stopped being a democrat after Jimmy Carter and when Jake Butcher bought the nomination for governor out from under Bob, well that was it for me. I believe with all my heart Bob would of run for governor when Bredesen got in the race but Bob wasn't going to go through a Butcher deal again. Nashville should be so lucky as to have Bob in the mayor's office. Maybe the people can talk hm into running again.

By: bfra on 11/10/10 at 11:10

I saw Boner & his painted up cupie girl try to perform at a club once. It would have made slacker, cringe! They didn't have sense enough to leave the stage, when they got laughed at.

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 11:14

I met Bob when I was in high school. I was listening to Metallica on my walkman and he was shaking hands. He just kinda looked at me, probably thought I was going to steal his wallet.

Weak handshake...his hands were sweaty too. I should have asked if he preferred "Master of Puppets" or "Ride the Lightning". I wouldn't have understood his response, he spoke some kind of backwoods hillbilly that I didn't recognize.

By: bfra on 11/10/10 at 11:26

The Bob Clement, I have talked with many times, is very well spoken and articulate in what he is speaking about. Best I remember, he also had a very firm handshake. Not a "try to break your hand, as some people do", but firm.

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 11:35

Same guy

By: gdiafante on 11/10/10 at 11:53

I've always preferred Bredesen. Manly handshake, thought "Justice" was the last great Metallica album...speaks English...

By: brrrrk on 11/10/10 at 3:53

Tucker Carlson sends fraudulent emails impersonating Keith Olbermann, and it's just a joke? Really?

“Could you resist?” he told Yahoo News.. “It was just too funny. The flesh is weak.”

By: house_of_pain on 11/10/10 at 3:57

Bob Clement: the man with a bipolar handshake.