I cannot stand by and say nothing. I hope some friends are reading this morning, because I can feel the ugly rhetoric that may come back at me.
But really, “Send her back.” That is the chant at a presidential rally. Making hate and division the central point of any presidential campaign is so thoroughly bothersome to me, I cannot express it in words. Personal attacks, unacceptable adjectives, profanity (and before anyone says something, I have been very clear with everyone we need to watch our language…..and yes I am not afraid to have blunt words with the squad)…..but we are stoking tensions, inflaming rhetoric, pitting people against each other in the nation I love.
It’s not who we are. It’s not who my community is. I have always believed in respecting the office of the president. I have said I would work with him if it helps my constituents…..and by the way I think we should be working on prescription drugs, making sure every American has access to quality, affordable healthcare, infrastructure, trade deals and uniting this country. “United we stand, divided we fall.”
Let me remind you of Ronald Reagan’s words:
“Yes, the torch of Lady Liberty symbolizes our freedom and represents our heritage, the compact with our parents, our grandparents and our ancestors. It is that lady who gives us our great and special place in the world. For it’s the great life force of each generation of new Americans that guarantees that America’s triumph shall continue unsurpassed into the next century and beyond. Other countries may seek to compete with us; but in one vital area, as a beacon of freedom and opportunity that draws the people of the world, no country on earth comes close.“This, I believe, is one of the most important sources of America’s greatness. We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation.“While other countries cling to the stale past, here in America we breathe life into dreams. We create the future, and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”
Can we stop. Take a deep breath. Celebrate our diversity. Work together to address our problems. Listen to one another. Understand we each have had different experiences, different hardships. We are hurting in some way, but we love our country, are stronger together. We help each other; we want someone to care about us; we want to belong to a community and be part of one. That community is the strength of democracy.
Benjamin Franklin once said “when you assemble a number of men (plural now include women) to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men (and women) all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views.” He thought it impossible to expect a “perfect production” from such a gathering, but he believed that the Constitution they had just drafted, “with all its faults”, was better than any alternative that was likely to emerge.
There is a lesson in all of this. It is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. Upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” Meaning democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.
So let’s be engaged. Let’s talk about the issues that matter to working men and women across the country of all races, religions, colors, national origin, sexual persuasion and age. Let’s stop this ugly, fear mongering rhetoric. It’s been seeping into our communities for years. Social media sure has helped accelerate it. But IT IS HURTING US!!!! We find it easy to attack, use unacceptable words. There is too much blame, shame, bullying. ENOUGH!!!!!! WE HAVE TO STOP! We are fighting with friends (even de-friending them on Facebook), family gatherings are battlegrounds, children think this is normal. A Catholic cardinal (one of the good guys) said to me he feared people’s hearts are becoming hardened. We are normalizing this behavior. WE SHOULD NEVER NORMALIZE THIS BEHAVIOR!!!!!!!
Remember civility? Respect? Talking about differences? Problem solving? Helping our a neighbor? Seeking what unites us instead of what divides us. ITS TIME!!!!! THIS HAS TO STOP ON ALL SIDES.
So I will close with this from the Institute of Civility…
“Civility is about more than just politeness, although politeness is a necessary first step. It is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and nobody’s is ignored.”
Civility begins with all of us. Isn’t it time?
- U.S Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) represents Michigan’s 12th District in Congress.