Andrew Jackson once said “one man with courage makes a majority”—and with the recent announcement that he will step down as the Republican Conference Chairman in January, Senator Lamar Alexander may inspire a new wave of common sense and pragmatism on the Hill.
Stating “we should be focused on results instead of making speeches,” Alexander made a laudable commitment to setting aside politics in favor of finding solutions.
It is a profound announcement for an elected official to give up the power of leadership to try to facilitate a better Congressional system. Indeed, by forgoing the trappings of power and assuming the political risks of greater autonomy, Alexander is demonstrating another kind of leadership.
Partisan rhetoric and political infighting have hampered our ability to remedy the litany of challenges our nation faces.
Alexander has recognized that he can more meaningfully serve his country and his constituents by devoting himself to fulfilling the duties of his office. He has the independence to seek alliances and strike compromise when necessary. He has the ability to respond to promising ideas originating on either side of the aisle. And, when necessary, he has leeway to be critical of either party.
But importantly, despite giving himself greater room to forge consensus, Alexander has not compromised any of his beliefs. He remains a proud Republican, and in this action will likely find a way to better further his ideals.
Official party leadership serves a valuable function, but there are times when genuine leadership takes a less formal shape.
Alexander represents the best in American politics. He alone cannot change the system; it will take others to find their own route to common sense and constructive policies. But it is a good start.