Foreword

—Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher
(WI, elected 2016)

—Democratic Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan
(PA, elected 2018)

Before serving the United States as members of Congress, we each served as members of the armed forces. Chrissy earned a systems engineering degree from Stanford University on an ROTC scholarship and served in the Air Force, helping design defense systems for ballistic missile attack. Mike joined the Marines the day he graduated from Princeton University and served in intelligence across the world. Both of us felt we owed this service to our extraordinary country.

During our time in the military, we served under and led men and women of great diversity—each with their own family backgrounds, stories, and belief systems. We came together united by our common goal to protect this country we treasure. Military duty was a great honor and formed the foundation for our continued service today—service to our districts, our states, and our country.

While we are immeasurably honored and privileged to now be serving again in Congress and to be working on behalf of our constituents and our country, we are both dismayed by the current state of play in Washington, D.C. Like many of our colleagues, we are deeply frustrated. We know you are too.

As veterans, we know what it means to fight on the same team for the America we love so much. That love hasn’t changed. That desire to fight for America hasn’t changed. So why aren’t we now on the same for-America team? Why is our status as members of different political parties seemingly more potent than our shared love for America, our many areas of agreement, and our shared responsibility to solve problems and get results? Why are we more often opponents than colleagues? Why are we collectively allergic to the compromise and teamwork required to do what Americans want and expect of their Congress? Why can’t we get big things done for the American people?

Because the system is built to tear us apart. In American politics, winning isn’t winning unless the other side is losing, and losing badly.

This shouldn’t be.

And it doesn’t have to be. This book proves it.

Katherine and Michael argue that “it’s the system.” Most importantly, they propose specifics on how we can fix it together. Their prescription is powerful. It is nonpartisan. What’s more, it’s doable.

The next generation of elected leaders is not required to carry on the dysfunctional legacy of gridlock and bad blood that has defined our recent politics. We must match our love of country with a system that’s designed to serve the people, not the “political-industrial complex.” We want to look back on our careers in public service and see that we were able to make American lives better, coast to coast.

We know you want the same. We’re excited about the possibilities.

This book arrives not a moment too soon. Please engage—we owe it to our extraordinary country to do so.

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