By: Martha Young Issue: Vision Section: Business Senator Tom Daschle has led a life of public service—one instilled by his parents—who believed that public service was an honorable profession. After finishing college in 1969, he entered the United States Air Force as an intelligence officer with the Strategic Air Command. He left the Air Force in 1972 to sow the seeds of what would become a 26 year career on the national political stage.
Laying the Groundwork for Bipartisan Consensus Building
In 1978, Tom Daschle was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat from South Dakota. He ran as a conservative Democrat, putting some ideological space between himself and the socially liberal platform of the party. His vision for the country during this time was steeped in the foundation of national security and quality of life. Throughout his tenure, Daschle repeatedly voted his constituents’ values over party lines.
While serving in the House, Daschle worked on the Agriculture and Veterans Affairs Committees and the Select Committee on Hunger, and was elected to the House Steering and Policy Committee in 1983. His House Committee work clearly reflected his values and vision for the country. Through the Agriculture Committee, Daschle stood by the country’s farmers through the farm crisis in 1985, writing the Emergency Farm Credit Act. He also contributed major provisions of the Disaster Relief Acts of 1988, 1989 and 1993 to assist with farm recovery after devastating natural disasters. Through the Veterans Affairs Committee, he advocated for his fellow veterans harmed in the line of duty. Successful legislation included compensation to veterans who were cancer victims due to exposure to Agent Orange, and passage of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 1994, which authorized payment of disability compensation to Gulf War veterans.
Daschle was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and served as minority leader and majority leader, twice in each role, over the course of his tenure. As a senator, Daschle strengthened his vision for the country, emphasizing compromise and bipartisanship. In 2001 the Senate was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans—an unusual circumstance at the time. He worked with Trent Lott, the Republican Leader, to develop new rules to share power and the agreement passed the Senate unanimously.
Daschle’s Vision for the Country Expands
Over the course of time, Daschle’s vision for the country has expanded beyond the halls of Congress. He said, “It is up to all of us to forge consensus. The people of the country need to share their thoughts and ideas with their representatives. It is easy to do with a phone call or an email. The people need to pay attention to political issues and put pressure on their representatives with a tone of urgency.”
Energy, the environment, sustainability and health are interrelated issues, and the country cannot legislate on one aspect without impacting the others. These are complex issues, but if we are to develop a national energy policy, citizens can no longer remain complacent. Citizens must challenge the status quo. Many government and business players are advantaged by maintaining the status quo—and many of them are outside of the country’s borders—causing undue influence on the ability to move forward.
Daschle notes, “We are not lacking information on each of the factors that compose the country’s energy challenge and suite of solutions. We are in need of firm decisions and setting a direction that is backed by the people.”
Vision for the Future
Daschle is bullish on America saying, “We are the most innovative society the world has ever known. There is a growing realization—an awareness—throughout the country that to create better policies requires involvement. We are seeing the seeds of engagement beginning to sprout across the country. I am very optimistic that the country will come together to build a strong energy solution portfolio that is sustainable for our country’s future.”
Tom Daschle has moved off the congressional stage into a role that is well suited to his consensus building skills. He is a senior policy advisor at DLA Piper’s Government Affairs practice. He also serves as a member of DLA Piper’s Global Board. His work has enabled him to emerge as a thought leader on climate change and renewable energy policy. Daschle is a keynote speaker at the Global New Energy Summit (GNES) being held at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 9-11. The Senator said, “GNES is one of the premier energy conferences. It brings together all of the energy stakeholders to discuss and share ideas specific to policies and issues. It draws a wide array of participants.” To learn more about the Summit, and to register to hear Senator Daschle’s address visit www.globalnewenergysummit.org.
Martha Young is principal at NovaAmber, LLC, a business strategy company based in Golden. Young has held positions as industry analyst, director of market research, competitive intelligence analyst, and sales associate. She has written books, articles, and papers regarding the intersection of technology and business for over 15 years. She has co-authored four books on the topics of virtual business processes, virtual business implementations, and project management for IT. Young can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @myoung_vbiz.