We all know people who agree with us on issues very important to us that inform the way we view and interpret the world around us. Similarly, we probably all know others who disagree with us on those same things.
One of the most beautiful and essential things about America is that we are free to express those views out loud and we also have the freedom of association. In today’s climate, however, we are discovering that sometimes we don’t listen enough, especially to those with whom we might not be inclined to agree.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to change our minds on deeply-held beliefs, but when we sit down together and really hear from each other it helps us better understand where our coworkers, neighbors, friends and family are coming from. These conversations also help in finding out what common ground we share and the possibilities that exist for finding areas of agreement.
Since I’ve been in Congress, I’ve always held fast to my beliefs and the things that I deeply care about. But I have also made an effort to reach out to those who have a difference of opinion, whether in my own party or across the aisle.
I’ve worked with my Democratic colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation on a range of issues including agriculture, health care, veterans and infrastructure. My goal is always to reach out to my counterparts to find out if we can come together and chart a way forward in order to improve the lives of Arkansans and all Americans.
Listening to each other doesn’t inherently resolve serious disagreements, but oftentimes we come away with a better understanding of and appreciation for the other person’s views. It is through these conversations that we are able to reach a compromise that we both agree can do a lot of good.
It’s no secret that political rhetoric in our country has been growing increasingly heated, even toxic in some cases. This is especially true after the last election cycle.
In light of recent events, including the shooting that occurred at a Congressional Baseball Game practice that wounded Congressman Steve Scalise and four others, we have an opportunity and an obligation to take a step back and evaluate what we say and how we say it. I firmly believe that in Congress and across America that it’s possible, and even preferable, to disagree without being disagreeable.
As you may have seen, the Congressional Baseball Game was still played the day following the horrific attack. I attended the game and it was evident that all those in attendance were still feeling the effects of the incident, but it was also clear that many of us were making a concerted effort to view each other with fresh eyes. This was a small, but important first step toward coming together, moving forward and choosing to look beyond partisan labels or caricatures.
We are all Americans. We are all in this together. Differences of opinion notwithstanding, we can work together while fighting for what we believe is right. I’m committed to doing that in Washington, DC and I hope we all take more time listen to one another and elevate our public discourse.