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By: Logan Byrne, Esq.

October 4th marks the anniversary of a day which caused widespread fear in the United States. On that day in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first unmanned satellite, kicking off the Space Race. Facing the possibility of Soviet superiority, Congress passed the bipartisan National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 to demonstrate the strength of American innovation and the tenacity of the American spirit. The act created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), to lead the country in the Space Race and into the vanguard of human space travel. Merely 11 years later, inspiring the world and demonstrating American greatness, Neil Armstrong became the first human to step foot on the moon.

Why talk about NASA? Because, without a bipartisan act of Congress, NASA and the space program would have been science fiction.

Bipartisanship is an ideal touted by many but attained by few. Instead, many politicians grow into ideologues and merely repeat the stale rhetoric of their political allies. Ideologues are unable to become strong leaders because they approach governance with a winner takes all attitude, and they are unwilling or unable to compromise with their political opponents. Unwillingness to compromise can stifle potential progress and kill legislation before it even reaches a vote. The National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 could have easily been impeded by ideologues pushing partisan politics.

An ideologue adheres so strongly to a specific ideology that he/she becomes blindly partisan. In other words, an ideologue is so engulfed by his/her own bunk that he/she cannot see the forest for the trees. This is not a good quality for a political leader, especially when tasked with passing legislation on controversial political topics.

In today’s America, the political divide is as wide as it has ever been. Legislatures are filled with ideologues, entrenched in their thinking and unwilling to cross the political aisle. The solution is to elect more candidates who are able and willing to negotiate in good faith with other elected officials – regardless of their political affiliation. Michigan is at its strongest when everyone’s voices are heard and meaningful political debate is conducted on controversial topics. It’s about time that Michigan got back to “we the people” and not “us and them.” As poetically expressed from the surface of the moon, the space program was a bipartisan effort that was beneficial to all Americans – it was “one giant leap for mankind.”

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