This 4th of July, Let’s Focus on our Commonalities

In South Dakota, the Fourth of July is a time to spend with friends and family, whether that be boating, camping, attending parades or grilling out and lighting fireworks. It is a holiday filled with joy and tradition that allows us to celebrate the liberties and freedoms unmatched by any other country in the world. It is also a reminder that we continue to be the greatest, strongest, most resilient country that has ever existed and can overcome any challenge we may face.

Unfortunately, it can often be too easy to lose sight of these principles amidst cable news stories of partisan gridlock and party infighting. During trying times, it is important to remember that what unites us as Americans will always be far greater than what divides us.

Having been working in Washington for two-and-a-half years, I can tell you that everyone I have met has good intentions. We all share the same goal of leaving our country better for future generations, we just sometimes disagree on how to get there. And that’s ok. Having healthy, robust debates among elected leaders is a cornerstone of our democracy. As long as we remain respectful and understand that we all want what’s best for our nation, there is no challenge we cannot overcome.

 One area in which we continue to see common ground is in our support for our veterans and the men and women in uniform. Just before the Senate recessed for the Fourth of July holiday, I’m pleased that the Armed Services Committee, on which I serve, once again came together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The NDAA is the annual bill that supports our military operations and personnel within the Department of Defense. It is one of the most important bills we pass each year in Congress, and it is one of the rare instances in which members truly check their party ID at the door to put the defense of our nation, our troops and their families before all else. In fact, the NDAA has been signed into law for more than 50 years in a row, despite changing parties at the White House and amidst an ever-changing political climate in Washington. I’m honored to do my part in continuing that effort and to stand with our men and women in uniform. 

We are fortunate to live in the freest country in the world, a country that protects our individual right to express ourselves through free speech. The recent shooting involving Members of Congress, Capitol Police and Capitol Hill staff in Alexandria, Virginia, is a tragic reminder for all of us that while there is still evil in the world, we cannot and will not tolerate violent extremism.

Former President Bill Clinton said in his first inaugural address that "there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America." I wholeheartedly agree. This year, as we celebrate Independence Day, let us all strive to put aside our differences and celebrate the commonalities we share as Americans.