Thanksgiving: A Time For Reflection And Renewed Commitment
by Patrick Leahy
In our family, as in homes across Vermont and the nation, this Thanksgiving will be a time of especially deep and emotional reflection.
After a bitterly contested election that tested our civility and fanned the flames of intolerance, we now move into a period that may further test our national character and our institutions. We already are ending a year in which a majority of senators have broken not only with precedent, but with the sworn obligation to uphold our constitutional responsibilities, by refusing to even hold a hearing on a president’s nominee to fill a vacancy on our highest court.
I have heard from countless Vermonters about the pain felt right now by so many. This year has left us reeling, a feeling shared by all Vermonters, regardless of who we supported. It is real, it is deep, and it comes from a campaign marked by vitriol, intolerance and hate speech that should have no place in our public discourse. What happened in this election cannot be tolerated or normalized. All of us as citizens need to speak out against bigotry and intolerance whenever and wherever they appear.
I am thankful to live in a nation that is both good and great -- the wealthiest, most powerful and most generous nation in the world, endowed with freedoms, rights, values and ideals, and quality of life that are the envy of the world. These trying times challenge us to find common ground and to remain engaged in our communities and beyond. We need to share of ourselves and express the respect and the empathy that we have for each other. We can help steady our communities, our nation and our loved ones by helping where there is need, listening where there is frustration, and acting where there is injustice. Vermonters know how to weather storms. When times are toughest, we always come together to focus on what’s important: each other.
I am thankful to be a Vermonter, where civility, public service, and the ability to reason and compromise with each other are fundamental virtues. This is The Vermont Way.
The checks and balances of our system now may be strained as never before. But I have faith in our constitutional system of rights, responsibilities, and the rule of law that is our heritage as Americans. Many have sacrificed and many have died to protect this precious endowment.
Vermont’s delegation in Congress is engaged, committed and well-positioned for these challenges.
I am thankful that my fellow Vermonters are returning me to the Senate and have given me the opportunity to bring their voices and our Vermont values to the Capitol. The results of this election have reshaped the policymaking landscape in Washington and show the need for checks and balances, now that one party controls the White House as well as both houses of Congress. There are many challenges ahead. Against this new backdrop I have decided that I will best be able to represent Vermonters’ voices, and reflect Vermont values and ideals, as the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Budgets are where we as a nation set our priorities, and the Appropriations Committee makes those one-by-one decisions in the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund our government.
Both the Appropriations Committee and the Judiciary Committee are on the front lines of so many of today’s pressing issues. These include the priorities we decide in funding the federal government in our annual appropriations bills, and the future of the Supreme Court. And as the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to offer a strong and outspoken voice in defending our Constitution, protecting and promoting human and civil rights, defending Americans’ privacy, and fighting for judicial independence.
My ongoing efforts range from economic development in Vermont and rebuilding our country's infrastructure, to protecting Lake Champlain, fighting efforts to roll back protections of our air, water, and public lands, and pressing forward with action on climate change. My priorities also continue to include championing crime victims and addressing the opioid scourge, protecting child nutrition and agricultural investments, supporting research on cancer and infectious diseases, promoting human rights, and investing in proven ways to help working families to thrive and advance. I am committed to continue working as the steward of the trust Vermonters have again invested in me. I am determined to give Vermonters a front-and-center seat as budget and policy priorities are decided.
I am thankful for Vermont values and the ways I see Vermonters apply them each and every day. Our Vermont values are enduring, and they are precious. They are an example to others. They have been distilled and refined through time and experience. And they will help carry us forward.
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[Patrick Leahy (D) is Vermont’s senior United States senator.]
David Carle: 202-224-3693
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