If you watch cable news, you may feel dispirited by the current state of our political affairs. We are constantly told we're too left, too right, too this and that. Partisanship exists, but seeing eye to eye isn't a condition for finding common ground. Take, for example, my 30-year friendship with Senator Mitch McConnell. The two of us joined forces to take on the Pentagon and challenge its plans for incinerating hazardous chemical weapons near my hometown.
I first met Senator McConnell in 1985, shortly after he won his first U.S. Senate election. I was a Vietnam veteran turned antiwar environmentalist, and he was a Reagan Republican. As you might expect, we didn't agree on a lot.
I had recently attended a community meeting with 300 other concerned citizens where Pentagon officials shared their plans to destroy chemical weapons at Blue Grass Army Depot. They intended to burn these toxic nerve agents at a Richmond plant, just one mile from a middle school and six miles from my family home.
The community was eager to see these weapons destroyed, but we wanted a safe solution. It was clear the Army wouldn't provide the answers we were looking for without a push, so I began sharing my frustrations with the senator and a wide range of citizens.
We enlisted colleges, churches, businesses, horse farms, physicians and many more to advocate against the Pentagon's incineration plans. Over time, our concerns snowballed into a mass of…