How to Make Congress Work: Workout!

Here's a feel good piece from BuzzFeed's Kate Nocera detailing the unlikely pairing of liberal Luis Gutierrez and conservative Paul Ryan–two men that "are about as far apart ideologically as two congressmen can be."  If lightning strikes and the House gets beyond gridlock on immigration reform no doubt this "Congressional odd couple" should be the ones uncorking the Champaign.

Nocera relates that the friendship formed thanks to frequent run-ins at the House gym "where early morning workouts inevitably turn into locker room conversations about policy." And we thought swinging rather than pumping iron was the way to forge links in D.C. 

But then on reflection one would be hard-pressed to imagine a more ideal place. There is an informality about working out that may not obtain on the golf course. Plus the convenience, the proximity, the frequency…

Best case scenario: Working out winds up working like this: 

When Ryan was on the vice presidential campaign trail last year, he returned to the House several times to cast votes, and Gutierrez pulled him aside one morning in the gym…“I said, ‘Well you know you might be vice president, not that I’m going to help you in anyway. But if you win can I get to call you about immigration? Are we still going to collaborate?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely, even more,”” Gutierrez recalled.

All this warm fuzzy frolicking towards bubbly must be qualified.  While both Congressmen are political opponents they actually began from common ground on immigration reform.  And then, voila, both men have common ground as in shared patch of earth: Gutierrez-Chicago, Ryan-Wisconsin. Add to this a shared Catholicism and the unlikely pairing seems likelier and likelier.

But the thing is that for so many of our polarized partisans there exists such wide swaths of commonality.  It just needs facilitating. A golf course here, a gym there. Before you know it you have a functioning government, etc.

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