As I’ve been going around Eastern Washington these past few days, I’m reminded how great our community is and how we can come together to accomplish goals to the benefit of everyone. The grand opening of the Walla Walla Veterans Home on Saturday was a perfect example of how everyone’s collaboration helps better our communities. America is the country where no matter your background or walk of life, you are empowered to pursue your own unique version of the American Dream. With so many different people with so many different experiences, it’s nothing short of astounding that we can come together and find common ground to move our country forward. But that’s why our country is the greatest experiment in self-governance the world has ever known. Our motto, E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one), is a reminder to us every day that America is strongest when we work together, despite our differences.
There’s no doubt that this past year has been a tough one. We’ve seen division and partisanship tear at the fabric of our communities, even right here in Eastern Washington. Political disagreements, cultural conflicts — the examples of how we’re different are public and never-ending. At times like these, it’s important that we remember what unites us and what we have in common, rather than shining a spotlight on what we don’t. I’m committed to working with you and with people across Eastern Washington and the entire country to find common ground on our shared values of liberty, justice, and equality of opportunity. Earlier this month, I wrote an op-ed for Time Motto about the importance of bridging the political divide, and why this is more important now than ever. I encourage you to read it here.
In January, I joined in the Spokane rally and march honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., and shared with the crowd a quote that I think touches on our need for unity: “If you want to travel fast, go alone. If you want to travel far, go together.” You can read my full speech from the rally here. Later that afternoon, I joined the Spokane NAACP President Phil Tyler and several community members for a “Peaceful Communities Roundtable” to discuss the issues facing our community and our vision for the future of Spokane. I strongly believe that more must be done to address racial division in Eastern Washington, and our country as a whole, and I will continue to join these courageous conversations so we can find the solution together. Earlier this week, I joined Phil and others for a second roundtable. Having these conversations is important to me, and I look forward to continuing to work to unify the Eastern Washington community and be an advocate for all.
On Monday, I joined Global Neighborhood and World Relief, two local organizations who do great things in Spokane, to talk more about the work they do to help resettle refugees in our community and hear concerns and thoughts on our current immigration system. It was moving to be there to listen to their stories, and their feedback on how to help refugees will be on my mind as we work towards commonsense immigration reforms. Hearing from people of all walks of life, from all different ideologies and perspectives, is important to me, because it helps me be a better representative for everyone in Eastern Washington.
We aren’t always going to agree. But we can disagree without being disagreeable. We can move mountains and come together to find common ground. We can pledge to be better neighbors and to build up our communities when anger and fear threaten to divide us and tear us down. And we can learn to understand the frustrations and struggles of those around us, even if they don’t match our own.
Although we come from different backgrounds, we are all united under one flag, one Constitution, and a core belief in freedom. If we are going to preserve the blessings of liberty for generations to come, I challenge you to join me in listening to others and, even when it seems impossible, to seek unity.