Sen. John Thune
If you watch cable news, you might think Republicans and Democrats have irreconcilable differences – that at the end of the day, we retreat to our own corners to isolate ourselves from the other party. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Political tensions are high these days, I’ll admit it, but if you asked just about any elected official, they would tell you that the “R” or “D” after his or her name means far less than the one overarching title that unites us, which is that we’re all Americans.
When all is said and done, it’s “American” that’s embroidered on our jerseys, because all 535 of us in Congress are on the same team. We were bluntly reminded of that after the recent shooting in Alexandria, Virginia. What should have been a fun morning spent with friends and colleagues at the ballpark quickly turned into a chaotic scene that ended with bravery and heroism.
If it wasn’t for the quick and selfless action of several Capitol Police officers who were there that morning, a bad situation could have been so much worse. It’s always amazing to think about, but when the bullets start flying, these men and women rush toward danger to stare it directly in the face. There isn’t a day that goes by that my staff and I aren’t unbelievably grateful for everything they do to protect us, whether it’s amid peace or chaos.
It’s unfortunate that in the cloudy political climate in which we live, it takes an event like this one to rattle us back to reality. The Capitol Hill community – members of Congress, all of our respective staff members who help us represent our constituents to the best of our ability, the Capitol Police, and everyone else who works or lives here – is like a family. Like any family, we have disputes from time to time, but we must remember that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
I’m not going to agree with my colleagues on every bill, but that’s okay. We can have honest disagreements about policy, whether it’s about health care or tax reform or you name it. We will have disagreements, and we should, frankly. That’s exactly what our democracy is all about. But we can and should do it in an honest and respectful way, which is what I hope we all take away from this recent act of violence.
Shortly after the shooting, I went to the Senate floor to reflect on what happened. I said it then, but it bears repeating. Good endures. Sacrifice endures. Heroism endures. Long after the names of the evildoers are forgotten, these things remain. It’s one of many reasons that America remains a beacon of hope around the world and why we – individually and collectively – must always remember that it’s our commonalities and not our differences that make us great.