08/12/2013 10:58 am ET Updated Oct 12, 2013

America Is Weaker Because of Speaker Boehner

There is little doubt that Speaker Boehner is a decent guy. He surely loves America. But as Speaker of the House, he has made the country weaker.

In the immigration reform morass that has gripped our government like quicksand, we see Boehner's manifest weakness. It's no secret that the Tea Party radicals in his own caucus have terrorized the Speaker into immobility and sometimes outright incoherence.

For contrast, we should remember Ronald Reagan's presidency, when Democrats controlled the House all eight years -- and Speaker Tip O'Neill ruled the chamber with an iron fist.

Back then, a Republican president was elected by the people with a very specific program. How do you think Reagan's "radical" tax plan was passed through the Democratic-controlled House? Speaker Tip O'Neill, a Democrat, recognized that Reagan had won the election and, though he could have blocked Reagan's whole program (like today's Republicans have done to Obama) he allowed an open vote -- a minority of Democrats voting with a majority of Republicans.

O'Neill respected democracy -- even when he was not in agreement with the president's program, nor was it in the narrow interest of his party to partner with the Republicans to pass the president's electoral agenda.

O'Neill, we should not forget, also allowed a vote of the House on the 1986 immigration reform bill -- even though Reagan would sign the law and get the credit, and Republicans would presumably win support among immigrant groups that had traditionally voted for the Democrats.

John Boehner is no Tip O'Neill -- and America is considerably weaker as a result.

If you agree, email the Speaker and ask him to allow an open vote of the House -- immigration reform will make America stronger, now is the time for Speaker Boehner to lead with national, not partisan, purpose.

Be sure to ask him to channel Tip O'Neill and his devotion to governing, respecting elections and putting country above party. America needs Boehner's leadership.