Columns

A More Civil Discourse for America

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Washington, June 16, 2017 | Beth Breeding (202-225-5431) | comments
Just a few days ago, an early morning practice for the Congressional Baseball Game at a field in Alexandria was the scene of a vicious, targeted attack. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four other victims were wounded, including two U.S. Capitol Police officers. At the same time, we also learned that it was the heroic actions of those law enforcement officers that subdued the attacker and prevented even greater tragedy. For this, and for their service standing guard over the Capitol complex protecting Members of Congress, our staff, and visitors each day, I thank the brave members of the U.S. Capitol Police.

As word of this incident and feelings of shock reverberated throughout the Capitol, many of us were reminded of just a few years ago when another colleague, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, was attacked while meeting with her constituents in Arizona. The feelings of both of these days are a stark reminder that we, as a nation, must stand as one.

Just hours after the events unfolded in Alexandria, Members of both parties came together on the floor of the House of Representatives. The House Chaplain, Reverend Patrick Conroy, offered a prayer: “And, in this great silence, as we are gathered…may Republicans and Democrats be mindful of the rare companionship they share, men and women, who have taken very public responsibility for our country, that carries so many burdens and, today, the reminder, shared danger. May this day be characterized by kindness, good will and compassion, one to another.”

This attack will be remembered for many things. But rather than fear and rhetoric, I hope that instead we will remember the outpouring of support from Republicans, Democrats, and Americans from every walk of life throughout this great country. In a time when politics can pit neighbors against neighbors and social media has changed the way Americans communicate, we have seen a decline in civil discourse. That is why it is more important now than ever that we as a nation work even harder to maintain a civil discourse. We can have strongly held beliefs and passionately debate the issues. But, we can disagree without being disagreeable. I know from many years of working closely with Members of Congress on the other side of the aisle that this is the best approach to resolving our differences.

As victims of this attack heal, I ask that you continue to lift them up in your prayers. At the Congressional Baseball Game, Members of Congress stood together on the field of Nationals Stadium as one and as an example for our country that our differences do not divide us. Whether you are a Republican, a Democrat, or your beliefs fall somewhere in between, we are all on the same team. We are all Americans. God bless America.
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