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
September 27, 2017
Lately, I have been contemplating the President’s response to numerous athletes' peaceful protests during the National Anthem. This is what I would have liked to hear him say:
My Fellow Americans,
(Kansas City, MO) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement upon watching President Trump’s press conference wherein the President of the United States defended hate groups responsible for violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
As many of you know, this has been a troubling week. Congressman Steve Scalise, Majority Whip of the House of Representatives remains in the hospital after a cowardly act of violence. Four others, including two Capitol Police officers, a congressional staffer, and a former congressional staffer suffered injuries as well. I’ve thought about just how horrific the scene would have been if those two Capitol Police were not there. Special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey are true heroes--putting their lives on the line to protect others. I wish them a full and speedy recovery.
(Washington D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II released the following statement regarding the testimony of former FBI Director, James Comey today before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
(Washington, D.C.) – Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II wrote a letter to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, requesting an independent prosecutor be appointed immediately to investigate allegations of President Trump’s ties to Russia.
“Any interference in our election process, or any cyber threat to our nation, is a grave menace to our democracy. We need a complete accounting of what happened, how it occurred, whether any Americans were involved, and how further interference in our elections can be prevented,” wrote Congressman Cleaver.
This week, I’ve been asked this questions multiple times, “What do you think about President Trump’s first 100 days in office?” I can tell you my thoughts have ranged from disbelief to worry.
This administration has done little to improve the lives of the American people and his budget proposals would put an end to programs that would help the most vulnerable.
In the first 100 days, there has not been a single job-creating bill and the U.S. economy is moving at an even slower pace, the slowest quarter in three years.
These last few weeks, I’ve been spending time in the Fifth Congressional District of Missouri, meeting with constituents, and learning about their concerns. Members of Congress are elected to serve the constituents of their districts, and the first step in meeting that obligation is to listen to the issues impacting their daily lives.
In a few days, the world’s spotlight will shine on Kansas City, Missouri as thousands will gather at the National World War I Museum and Memorial for a once-in-a-lifetime event, the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into World War I.
I will vote “No” on TrumpCare – H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act of 2017.
There is just too much for the American public to lose. Americans will suffer with less health care coverage, fewer protections and higher costs.
Yesterday, President Donald Trump released his FY 2018 budget recommendations. Though the power to spend and appropriate lies squarely with Congress, every year the President offers a budget proposal. This year’s budget proposal left me astounded. Surely something with such blatant disregard for our most vulnerable citizens could not, should not, and will not pass in Congress.
President Trump’s cuts to several departments are simply put - harmful. This budget hurts working families, veterans, and especially low-income families and elderly citizens.