Transpartisan Action: Five Presidents Address Storms’ Impact

Transpartisan Note #63

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

On September 7th 2017, all five living former U.S. Presidents launched the “One America Appeal” to Help Hurricane Victims.  The appeal, initially announced to raise funds for organizations helping Hurricane Harvey victims, expanded to also help those affected by Hurricane Irma.

A website for online donations is now live at OneAmericaAppeal.org.  A special restricted account has been established through the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation to collect and quickly distribute donations to ensure that 100 cents out of every dollar goes to assist hurricane victims. Donations are tax deductible.

The presidents asked fellow citizens and friends around the world to support the staggering recovery needs from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They came together to lend their support to affected people and communities and first responders, organizations, volunteers and neighbors who have been assisting Hurricane victims.

Harvey has already displaced more than one million people and caused an estimated $180 billion in damages over its 300-mile path of destruction.  Irma continues its path toward the American Midwest with damage mounting daily and may yet cause losses equal to or exceeding those in Texas.

Following the announcement, President Donald Trump tweeted his endorsement of the program, saying, “We will confront ANY challenge, no matter how strong the winds or high the water. I’m proud to stand with Presidents for OneAmericaAppeal.”

The appeal debuted with the PSA “Our Friends in Texas,” broadcast during the NFL’s Thursday night regular season opening game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New England Patriots.  A second PSA that addresses both hurricanes was shown prominently during NFL contests Sunday afternoon.

The coming together of five former Presidents from two major parties, the sitting President, and the National Football League gives a taste of transpartisan power.  As One America Appeal says on its website: “Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought terrible devastation – but also brought out the best in humanity.”

This transpartisan experience underpins America.  Focused on an agreed upon problem, working together comes naturally.  It happens across the country every day.  Our current political situation might be seen as an effort of the country to work toward focusing people’s natural problem solving skills on political problems and institutions.  People united solve even the biggest problems.

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