Detroit Regional Chamber > Detroit Policy Conference > Carl Levin: Leading Requires Courage to Compromise

Carl Levin: Leading Requires Courage to Compromise

March 2, 2018

If Congress cannot compromise, it cannot govern efficiently. That was the key message from former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, who served as chair of the 2018 Detroit Policy Conference. During a discussion with Devin Scillian, anchor for WDIV-TV 4, Levin discussed lessons learned during his 36 years of experience in the Senate and the current political climate in Washington.

Scillian said many Americans look at Washington as a “swamp” and have lost trust in the federal government. He asked Levin how he worked through this negative perception to create positive change for Michigan.

“To get things done … you must work together,” Levin said. “Civility attributes to being able to work together.”

He cited the importance of bipartisan collaboration in moving legislation forward.

Key takeaways:

  • Trust is the building block of civility. To be civil, people must first be able to trust each other.
  • Attacking motives and making assumptions about those motives directly results in incivility and the inability to work together.
  • Making allies on both sides of the aisle is one way to ensure collaboration. Always give your opponents “a leg to stand on,” even when they are losing the argument.
  • You can disagree on a number of issues, but you cannot disagree on the facts.
  • It is up to leaders to clearly explain to the public why they make their decisions. True leaders have to make decisions that make sense for the majority of their constituents.