Christie, former New Jersey governor and 2016 presidential candidate, and Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and a White House chief of staff during the Obama administration, took part in a lively discussion Tuesday at the 2021 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle moderated the session, much of which focused on prospects for bipartisanship.
“Our politics in Washington sometimes exacerbate our differences,” Emanuel says. “As a former legislator, President Biden knows that today’s opponents can be tomorrow’s allies. He knows that if you disagree, you don’t do it in a way that breaks off all communications.”
Christie cites advice he received as a U.S. attorney: “It’s much harder to hate in person.”
“Because of the culture in Washington, that’s advice we’ve gotten away from,” he says. “People don’t talk to each other as much as they used to. That’s where the relationships Biden created during his 36 years in the Senate and his time as vice president can lead to greater opportunities for bipartisanship.”
Emanuel and Christie see opportunities for collaboration in infrastructure spending, research and development, climate change, job training, and education.
They also agree on the need to regulate social media platforms.
“There’s a new breed of legislators who don’t have loyalty to the party. They have loyalty to their Twitter followers,” Emanuel says. “Their way of making news is less about policy and more about increasing their following. People need to come to Congress to legislate, not to build platforms.”
Social media platforms must be held accountable for their decisions, Christie says. “They aren’t now, and it’s a huge mistake.
“We also need to look at how we don’t make people wait for days and weeks for election results,” he continues. “The longer that goes on, the greater the conspiracy theories become. This is just as important for people on the left as it is for those on the right.”
Christie and Emanuel each offer advice for effective credit union advocacy.
“Show your role in growing the economy,” Emanuel says. “Don’t get to know your legislators only when you need something. Get to know them when they need something, and you can be the answer to that problem.”
“Listen first,” Christie says. “We need to listen to each other more. Let’s see how we can bring our political needs together. More listening and less attacking would be a good way to go."
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