It is no secret that Congress faces a political climate full of frustration and hostility. Our failure to come together to solve our nation's problems continues to put our shared future in jeopardy.
We have come to think about compromise as capitulation. Some even see free speech as a tactic to suppress their outrage at government recklessness, rather than a reasonable approach to cordially debating our differences. One thing I've learned—and I have said this to Republicans and Democrats and everyone in between—is, bees cannot sting and make honey at the same time. They have to make a choice. Either they can sting other bees, or they can make honey with other bees. You cannot do both.
Unfortunately, Congress spends too much time fighting itself and too little time fighting for our constituents and the issues we believe in. We are a better, more compassionate, and caring nation than our current behavior portrays. We must be able to discuss our disagreements without allowing our discourse to deteriorate into this habit of hostility. While partisanship is a vital component of democracy, only healthy disagreement can propel us forward, to better ideas and better days. Embracing a civil exchange of ideas and respectful differences of opinion fosters real debate, and allows our best ideas to thrive.
That is why I have formed the Working Group for a Working Congress with my good friend and colleague, Congresswoman Kay Granger. This working group is comprised of Democrats and Republicans, and will work to demonstrate how we can be ardent in our advocacy without the cantankerous tone that is all too common. We will focus both on relationship building with lawmakers themselves and examine the committee process to create opportunities for bipartisan work on a small scale, and advocate for a return to regular order on a large one.
The founders designed our American Government anticipating partisanship. It is embedded in our country’s DNA, the Constitution. We thrive on our differences and on our diversity. But our differences only become virtuous when we discuss them with civility and statesmanship. When we allow hyper-partisanship to control the conversation, what once was a virtue becomes the downfall of a divided nation.
You can keep up with my weekly civility messages below, or by clicking Civility Message. You may also follow me on Twitter @repcleaver. Every Friday, I tweet a series of civility-themed messages. I encourage you to follow along, retweet, and share your own thoughts.
More on Civility
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II along with Congressmen Ro Khanna, John Lewis, and James Clyburn, introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights icon Reverend James Lawson. Rev. Lawson will be celebrating his 90th birthday this year. Rev. Lawson is recognized as one of the most consequential leaders of the civil rights movement.
As we go home for our summer break, let us please keep in mind that nothing can polarize congress and community but the belief in, and practice of, polarity politics. A little of the oil of civility in Congress will prevent a deluge of discord in the nation.
Last month, the Trump Administration began to enforce their “zero tolerance” policy for individuals illegally entering the country. Many of these families arrived at the border seeking asylum. Since that mandate, undocumented children have been routinely separated from their families. It has been reported that nearly 1,800 families have been separated at the U.S.-Mexico border since the policy was implemented.
June 7, 2018
(Washington, D.C. ) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II spoke on the House floor today about importance of a apology and the need to apologize to Sen. John McCain. These are his remarks. The video can be found here.
(May 17, 2018 - Washington, D.C.) – Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) and Walter Jones (R-NC) introduced H. Res. 901 calling on and encouraging the White House to issue a public apology to Senator John McCain for comments made by White House Communication’s Aide Kelly Sadler. The resolution, of which a draft can be found here, states;
A young grade school boy wanted $100 to purchase some badly desired video games. After hearing his pastor’s sermon cautioning that we must ask to receive, the young lad launched into action. He prayed, but after two days and no closer to $100, his impatience inspired him to write the Lord a letter in greater detail. Not knowing what to do with the letter, the local postmaster sent it to the congressional representative in Washington. The congressman received the letter from a staffer and with a soft heart, sent the boy a $5 bill.
It is quite possibly one of the most over-used statements in the English lexicon, yet rings true on so many levels, “Language is powerful.” What you say is just as important as what you do.
(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement regarding his vote on the impeachment of President Donald Trump.