During this tumultuous presidential campaign, it is commonplace to hear people mourn for bipartisanship and civil discourse. Attendees at a recent REAL Talks Atlanta forum featuring Congressman Dick Gephardt and Speaker Newt Gingrich were treated to two political giants sharing stories of hard-fought battles, compromise, and a peaceful transfer of power.
The Gephardt Institute was proud to sponsor the October 21 event, “Preserving Our Republic,” which began with C-SPAN footage from 1995 of Congressman Gephardt, then House Majority Leader, passing the Speaker’s gavel to Congressman Newt Gingrich, who had just led the Republican Party to its first victory of the chamber in 40 years. The two congressmen recounted their feelings of that respectful hand off, shared stories of political disagreements and compromise, and lamented the current political climate in Congress.
“It was an important time in the history of the House,” said Congressman Gephardt. “We were both motivated to run for office in order to solve problems. And though we didn’t agree on a lot of things, we respected one another, and we worked together to figure out how to get things done.”
The discussion spanned historical context, their early lives in politics, how they were able to communicate and compromise despite disagreement, and the collective way forward for civic leadership. “The great genius of the American system is that the dance continues,” noted Speaker Gingrich.
View footage from the 1995 gavel handoff here.
View the full replay: