opinion

Column: Shooting a warning to unite

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Like everyone, we were stunned when Congressman Steve Scalise, staff and Capitol Police officers were violently attacked on a seemingly routine Wednesday morning. Our thoughts immediately went to our colleagues, including members of the Michigan delegation, who were on the same field practicing for the congressional baseball game. Where are they, are they safe?

In that moment of fear, our singular concern was for our colleagues as human beings — moms and dads, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters — who all came to Washington to serve.

In the hours following the attack, we came together in prayer and heartache, united against this horrific act of evil — an attack on one of the few bipartisan traditions left on Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans come together for not only an American pastime, but a worthy cause.

This tragedy shined a light on a simple truth: this needs to be a wake-up call for all of us.

Today, our political rhetoric has become increasingly vitriolic and divisive. Too often we retreat to our familiar corners to talk to people who think like us, look like us, and consume only the news that fits our view. We focus on the “D” or the “R” behind someone’s name instead of getting to know them as a person.

The Michigan delegation should make an active effort to be an exception. We are working to find common ground, recognizing that there is far more that unites us than divides us. We do remember that in our state before we are Republicans and Democrats, we are Michiganders and Michiganians — united in a shared identity and common values.

This endeavor to bipartisanship has unfortunately become all too rare in the House of Representatives, the Senate and across our country. However, highlighted by this horrific attack on our congressional colleagues, our delegation has an opportunity to serve as an example, making a renewed commitment to remember that, first and foremost, we are all Americans.

This change cannot be temporary. We cannot afford to continue down the same path, in which our political discourse pushes us farther and farther apart. We need to lose the divisiveness and hostility that drives too much of our conversation and focus on ways to respect each other’s differences and stop demonizing people because of them. We need to listen, respect and accept one another. We don’t have to agree, but we need to restore a sense of civility and decency as an expected norm. For our country and for our future, we must remember that we are all in this great experiment together.

On Thursday, the Congressional Baseball Game took place as planned — a symbol that we will persevere in the face of unconscionable evil, that we will not cower to those who seek to undermine the principles of freedom and democracy that make this country the greatest in the world.

We know the wounds from last week will scar, but we also know that as friends, as Michiganians, and as Americans, we have an opportunity to rise to be a small part of something greater than ourselves. And as Americans, we are both committed to doing that.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, serves Michigan’s 12th Congressional district and Rep. David Trott, R-Birmingham, serves its 11th district.

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