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WASHINGTON, DC — Most everyone agrees that Congressional Washington is broken. It is, is, is. Cannot be stated over enough.
Rarely does anyone talk to one another across the political divide that separates the House and Senate chambers. Yet, if this country is to move forward, there has to be an on-going dialogue between Republicans and Democrats to breach the toxic political chasm that exists in the country and between the parties. And now stepping up into the fray is a group of in-the-know individuals who think they might have the solution. It’s called the Purple Nation Solutions and maybe, just maybe, might offer some results. Yes, Republicans and Democrats coming to grips with the nation’s problems and trying, together, to come up with solutions. Unbelievable?
Purple Nation Solutions is a joint venture among former President Bill Clinton’s special White House counsel Lanny J. Davis; former Republican National Committee chairman and also a former Maryland Lieutenant Governor, Michael Steel; and Eleanor McManus, an Emmy award-winning professional who was senior producer on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
Purple Nation says it is a “hybrid of law, media and legislative” concerns designed to break the gridlock that has stymied Washington. Its goal is to “debate ideas” and negate the polarizing politics that have become more prevalent than ever in recent memory.
Davis and Steele, who kind of come off as sort of a political Abbott and Costello team, offer their thoughts on bringing the country together.
Who first came up with the concept of Purple Nation Solutions, when, and why?
Michael Steele: Lanny had been working on the concept of Purple Nation Solutions for some time and in late January, early February, approached me to join him. The idea clicked instantly with me because we both want to see bipartisan solutions to problems. But we’re not forming a team in order to hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” As I have said before and I will say again, I believe that people are tired of the daily mindless rantings and ad homonym attacks — it is not entertaining anymore. We have formed this firm in order to try and work together as a Republican and a Democrat in difficult times to find solutions to problems both inside and outside Washington.
How did the three of you — Mr. Davis, Chairman Steele and Ms. McManus find each other and bond?
Lanny Davis: All three of us have known and respected each other throughout our work in D.C. for a while. Michael and I have run into each other on numerous occasions while being commentators on MSNBC and FOX. Eleanor worked at CNN for over a decade for Larry King, and used to call both of us to appear on the show. Between Michael’s political background, my legal background and Eleanor’s media background, we form the nexus of law, media and politics in Washington. By leveraging all law, media, and politics we have the ability to work with clients on a host of challenges finding solutions through legal means, media strategy, political lobbying, or all three.
Does anybody feel jealous that Chairman Steele seems to be the favorite on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" and just kidding, of course?
Lanny: I root for Michael when he is surrounded by my fellow liberals on Morning Joe and ganged up on — even though he is usually wrong, he is very eloquent.
Michael: I just read Lanny's comment about me on Morning Joe, and that's funny – I was going to make the same comment about rooting for Lanny when Sean Hannity won't let him speak more than two words without being interrupted — even though when he actually speaks, he is usually wrong.
What is the main purpose/goal of Purple Nation?
Michael: We are a bipartisan one-stop-shop providing legal counsel, media strategy and public relations, and political lobbying. The focus here is on time sensitive, strategic and bipartisan focused solutions with insight from those on both sides of the political aisle. We provide our clients with a unique perspective on public affairs, working to solve problems by navigating Washington.
Lanny: We want to help clients in finding solutions through tough issues. We want to be who they turn to when they need help. As businesses face complex issues in Washington and abroad, the intersection of law, media and politics is becoming a necessity to solve problems. Purple Nation Solutions is intended to be able to serve clients using all three disciplines– along with a bipartisan approach.
And do you think you can accomplish that goal given the mood of the country?
Michael: I believe Americans are tired of name-calling and finger-pointing. They want a different approach to solutions. And we will offer them that approach.
Are you choosing between Obama and Romney as candidates? Will Purple Nation endorse candidates?
Lanny: By reading my columns and Michael’s columns you can probably guess whom we support. It’s not any secret that I’m a Democrat and Michael is a Republican.
Michael: You should see us together debating which candidate will be better for this country both economically and socially. And no, Purple Nation Solutions will not endorse a particular candidate, but we do endorse that both candidates give voters honest answers to questions and honest solutions to our nation’s problems.
What is the most pressing issue facing the United States at the moment?
Lanny: We, like the American people, are divided on many things. But we share a strong passion for what the country needs – and polls show that most of the American people agree: Over the past ten 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.
Michael: The American people want a great debate between President Obama and Governor Romney on their specific solutions for the economy, healthcare, social security and Medicare. They desire solutions that spur the private sector to create more jobs; be responsive to those often left behind; and reduce our $15 trillion national debt, which immorally asks our children and grand-children to pay our bills. They expect solutions on foreign policy that recognize the value of “peace through strength” and allow American businesses to compete in the global economy.
Why does bipartisanship seem to have slowly, or maybe rapidly, seem to have come to a complete collapse?
Michael: Go back to the days of Bush v. Gore, when things became more partisan and hyper-charged. In tough economic times like now, I think the American people are really looking for something. We need solutions. And we can no longer afford to have leaders in Washington who are disconnected from reality.
What are your thoughts on the health care reform debate?
Lanny: I strongly support the (Affordable Care) Act and give President Obama and Democrats in congress great credit for achieving what I regard as a great moral issue that should have been addressed a long time ago — access to quality health care should not be a function of wealth, but a right of citizenship.
Now the President must do a better job of explaining its benefits. The White House — and the Democrats in congress — did a poor job of explaining it and still to this date haven't found an effective strategy to explain the benefits of the Act to 85% of Americans who have insurance as opposed to just talking to the 15% of Americans who do not.
Michael: I didn’t see the Supreme Court’s ruling coming, but I’m not necessarily surprised by it either. In upholding the Act, Justice Roberts, I believe was looking long term both constitutionally and politically. When it comes down to it though, the individual mandate is a tax – and even the President should not have been surprised by that since that’s what his solicitor general quietly argued before the court.
Can Congress and the President truly come together — a bit — as they did in the 1990's when President Clinton and the Congress managed to craft a balanced budget — of course, that was before impeachment suddenly showed up.
Lanny: Remember, I was in the White House during the Clinton years.
All in all, Congress and the President can come together (or not) but it is not only up to the Congress and the President to determine where they stand but it is also up to the electorate to elect individuals who are not extreme partisans.
Is America in a decline as some like to say, or are we steady and ready to get going again?
Michael: We will be better off when we start focusing on real solutions such as paying down the national debt instead of holding partisan hearings on trivial matters.
Lanny: I agree with that. And remember, I agree with almost nothing that he says.
Photo Credit : Purple Nation Solutions