One of my Democratic colleagues said to me recently that he looked forward to the day when he and I could disagree again. And believe me, I share that sentiment. Because when we can disagree again about substance and policy, that will mean that our politics have righted themselves. That will mean that we have made the decision that we are going to reject anti-democratic forces, that we are going to reject toxicity, we are going to reject some of the worst kinds of racism and bigotry and anti-Semitism that characterize far too much of our politics today. History has taught us that what begins as words ends as far worse, and we must reject those things.
So, while I know that we will come to a day when we can begin, again, to disagree on substance and policy, I think it’s important for us to take this moment to agree what that future should look like. I think it should be a future where our political leaders are serious, where our political leaders are worthy of our support, where they are prepared, where they are substantive, where they defend principle, where they abide by their oaths of office.
When we go into the voting booth and we cast our votes as citizens, we should do so with a commitment to electing people who are as serious as the challenges we face as a nation. We demand excellence – [applause] – you can, that’s a good thing to clap for. We demand excellence in so many areas of our lives, we should demand excellence from our elected officials, as well.
When I was first elected to Congress, I made a real effort – I took the opportunity each time we had a vote to go onto the floor and to find a member I didn’t know, on either side of the aisle. And just to go sit next to that person and talk to them and learn about their life and learn about why they had come to Congress. And I will tell you, without exception, people – even people I have fundamental disagreements with, about every issue – everybody that I sat next to and talked to in that way had an amazing story and they were in Congress for the right reasons. We might have disagreed but they were there because they love their country and because they want to serve their constituents. And that’s a valuable thing for us all to remember.