U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, visited Quincy Wednesday in what he described as his farewell tour and Aaron Schock's welcome tour.
During part of his comments on behalf of Schock, LaHood complimented the 27-year-old's strategy of producing campaign advertisements that promote Schock's political views and goals rather than taking a swipe at Democratic candidate Colleen Callahan. LaHood said negative campaign advertisements poison the political environment.
"At one time Congress was a place you could really get things done. You could get it done in a bipartisan way … through the art of compromise where no one person got it all their own way. Right now it's all this upmanship. 'How do we criticize the other party.' To be honest with you Congress is dysfunctional," LaHood said.
LaHood has the resume to make comparisons about the relative level of political discourse. He spent 14 years in Congress. Before that he spent 12 years as U.S. Rep. Bob Michel's chief of staff. He spent 5.5 years as an assistant for U.S. Rep. Tom Railsback. So with 30 years of experience, LaHood has a legitimate frame of reference for his comments.
"I believe that whoever is sworn in on Jan. 20, whether it's Sen. McCain or Sen. Obama, has an opportunity to say 'we have to work together. This is what the American people want,''" LaHood said.
"So you'll have a new Congress and you'll have new faces in Congress, including Aaron Schock. And you'll have a new president and they're going to have to work together to solve our economic problems, our energy problems, our immigration problems, our health care problems. These are big issues. They're complicated issues. They'll only be solved by compromising. The only way we ever get anything done is by compromise, by people working together and coming together, setting aside their egos, setting aside their agendas, setting aside their partisanship to the benefit of the American people."
LaHood went on to say that people who serve on church boards, school boards and library boards in local communities understand that there may be differences on issues. But he said they come together for the common good. Those same community servants wonder why Congress can't do the same thing.