One of the biggest problems in politics today is that we sometimes jump to conclusions without hearing out the other person.
I was recently asked about political violence in this country. I responded that there has been political violence on both sides … because this is a fact.
Let me demonstrate this by referencing two recent events we are all familiar with:
The murderous events in Charlottesville were abhorrent, and the white supremacists who incited the violence do not represent who we are as a people. There is no room in our society for those who embrace hate and bigotry against their fellow Americans.
This was an example of political violence and I denounce it.
But just a few weeks before Charlottesville, a left-wing radical in Alexandria fired a gun at members of the Republican Congressional baseball team and critically wounded the House Republican Whip.
This was an example of political violence and I denounce it as well.
Both of these episodes were violent. Both were outrageous. Both were un-American. And both must be denounced. In fact, I can’t imagine that anyone but severe partisans would not agree with my position in denouncing both actions.
This is the point I was making when I made my comments a few days ago.
Still, I would add that Charlottesville is deeply troubling to me. Anti-Semitism and intolerance do not represent the core values and morals of this great nation. It is incumbent upon all of us as Americans to take a stand against extremism and acts of hatred.
The rhetoric of hate and personal insult has taken our political system hostage, making civil discourse nearly impossible and often dangerous. Whether it is the anti-Semitism of Charlottesville or the political intolerance of Alexandria, America is facing a moral crisis.
Disagreements over the direction of our nation and the political principles we follow to set our economic, health care, education, national security, and other policies are important ones. Every act of violence by demonstrators and counterdemonstrators, though, moves us further away from real solutions.
Unless we stand up for the universal ideals of equality and freedom for all, we risk losing what makes this nation a beacon of light for so many around the world. And in the meantime, let’s make sure our political discourse is one where we hear the other person out, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t assume the worst. Now is the time for all Americans to lower their voices and raise their sights.
Member of Congress