CIVILITY
(House of Representatives - June 08, 2017)

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[Page H4710]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                                CIVILITY

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Nebraska (Mr. Bacon) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. BACON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues and fellow 
citizens to elevate our political discourse in which we participate for 
the good of our country.
  Some of what I see in America grieves me. The partisan divide grows 
more volatile, and decency shrinking in our political dialogue. Many on 
the left continue to say, Mr. Trump is ``not my President.'' And in the 
past, some on the right have said, Mr. Obama is ``not my President.''
  Now we have people who think it is comical to be photographed with 
the depiction of the President's bloodied head. I can only think of 
real-life intelligence photos I have viewed of innocent men and women 
shortly after their decapitation at the hands of a terrorist. 
Escalating America's political discussion to actions like what Ms. 
Griffin is guilty of undermines our Nation's discourse and weakens the 
unity of our citizens, and I don't know where it stops.
  I fear we are pulling apart. The left and right should not hate each 
other. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., asserted: ``Hate cannot drive 
out hate: only love can do that.'' We must be able to disagree, debate, 
and then strive together for America. When we pull apart, our Nation 
weakens and our citizens become more vulnerable. I fear that if we 
continue down this path, the political wedge will be so ugly it will 
not be so easily repaired.

                              {time}  1045

  It is this pulling apart that caused us not to pass a defense 
spending bill on time for almost a decade. Our military leaders have 
stated we are back to the hollow force of the 1970s due to this 
congressional malpractice. Our Navy is unable to fly half of their 
aircraft; the Army only has 3 of their 58 combat brigades fully ready 
to deploy; and our Air Force pilots fly less hours today than they did 
during the hollow force years.
  In other words, the partisan rancor has undermined our Nation's 
defense, and our servicemen and -women are paying for this price in 
readiness. If North Korea, Russia, or another threat tries to take 
advantage of our weaknesses, our great warriors will pay for it with 
their blood.
  I love our country and our representative democracy. We have had our 
times of extreme divide. At the beginning of our Nation's history, 
there were very aggressive debates between the followers of John Adams 
and Thomas Jefferson, for example. We saw strife during Andrew 
Jackson's Presidency, when many of his opponents feared he was going to 
be America's Napoleon, and we survived those times.
  But let us not forget the bitter acrimony leading up to the 1860s, 
when we saw physical assaults on the floor of Congress. That divide was 
only solved after over 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War.
  Let us debate the issues. I have already held five townhalls myself 
to engage in the essential debates to improve our country, and I will 
hold more. But when it comes to the vitriol and verbal assaults, let us 
all take a knee and reflect.
  Are we taking our Nation to a potential precipice of a disaster if we 
keep turning up the volume of this partisanship?
  Earlier this year, the congressional freshman class signed a civility 
pledge. I again pledge civility, but I also implore our Nation to 
include our media and entertainment to reflect on the tone and ugliness 
that we are seeing. Let us rein in the anger and disrespect. I implore 
our President, our Senate, all of us in the people's House, all of our 
citizens, let us raise the bar of our debate and treat each other with 
respect. Let us not cross the line between criticizing the issues to 
criticizing the person.
  I have served in the military next to many great Americans for nearly 
30 years, and we all swore to protect and defend every American with 
our lives, regardless of our party affiliations. In fact, I rarely knew 
if a person was a Republican or a Democrat during my time in the Air 
Force.
  Let us not forget, too, that, during our history, 1.2 million 
Americans gave their lives in the defense of this country. They were 
Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Some had no party at all. Some 
were Federalists. Some were Whigs. They paid the ultimate price so we 
could have the privilege of a free and open debate that we enjoy today. 
They fought and died so our citizens could be the sovereigns of our 
Nation.
  Let us turn away from the anger, outrage upon outrage, away from the 
character assassinations. Let us turn toward civil debate and contend 
for our ideas and values in a manner pursuant to life, liberty, and the 
pursuit of happiness. When we lose an election, regardless of the 
party, let us do so gracefully, and respect the will of the voters and 
the Constitution. Let us agree when we agree, and respectfully disagree 
when we disagree. But to resist at all costs, on every issue, is 
damaging to our country.
  Today, some are calling for impeachment of our President. With the 
facts that we have, it is wrong and it is putting politics over the 
well-being of our country, and we are better than this. Let us turn 
down the volume.

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