Lugar calls on students to be open to new ideas
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 10:00 AM
Sen. Richard Lugar spoke with a group of high school students recently. His message: if you wish to enter the public arena, be willing to seek common ground with others.
It's that mindset that cost Lugar his job, but he is that rare kind of politician who over the years has shown that he wasn't willing to let purely partisan politics control his actions on Capitol HIll.
Lugar, has only a few more weeks to serve. When he leaves the Senate he will have been Indiana's longest serving senator with 36 years of service to Hoosiers.
"My hopes are that leaders in this room today will understand the virtue of talking to each other," the 80-year-old Lugar told the group as reported by Terre Haute Tribune-Star reporter Maureen Hayden.
"That (you) are really prepared to listen, to understand, and to try to find solutions," he said, "as opposed to attempting to intimidate each other, coerce each other...or be involved in the suppression of ideas."
If the students heard only one thing, we hope it was that message.
Lugar was defeated in the May primary by tea party-backed Richard Mourdock, who blasted Lugar's record of reaching across the partisan aisle. Mourdock lost in the November election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.
Lugar's message to his high school audience was filled with hope.
"I trust this is a cyclical wave and better times are still to come," Lugar said. "But it will not happen without persons like yourself."
Lugar told his audience that solutions to big problems can only be solved when people of opposing views are willing to talk to each other.
His message reminds us of a speech former Congressman Lee Hamilton delivered to a Madison audience not too long ago.
Hamilton, too, argued the need for a civil dialogue. He recalled his days in the House of Represenatives when leadership from both parties would have stout arguments over an issue, but after everyone had their say, compromise was usually achieved.
Lugar's best advice to would-be leaders: Be open to new ideas, new persons, and new friends.
Each of us would be wise to adopt that advice - regardless of what we do in life.