A Publication of WTVP

When the citizens of America went to the polls on November 7, they sent a message that said it is time for their government to work together. Given that the Legislative Branch is now controlled by a Democratic majority and the Executive Branch is run by a Republican President, it is in the interest of both political parties to put aside the politics of division and work towards policies that are born out of compromise and bipartisanship.

This election underscored, unfortunately, the idea that negative campaigning works, at least in an electoral sense. What does not work about negative campaigning is that it creates a “race to the bottom” between the candidates and increases the political polarization of our nation. In this age of the Internet and 30-second ads, it seems that it is much easier to be angry and divisive than to actually deal in a constructive and civil manner with someone whom you may disagree.

When we constantly bombard the airwaves with negative ads, it only serves to increase the public’s skepticism of politicians. Running for elective office and serving the public as an elected official is a noble and worthwhile endeavor. Our democracy is centered on the “citizen legislator,” yet as a whole, elected officials are not held in high regard by the public. Through our own actions as elected officials, we have contributed to that problem.

On Thursday, January 4, a new Congress will be sworn into office. As a member of the Republican Party, I certainly do not relish the fact that we will now be the minority party in the U.S. House. As a member of the majority party for the past dozen years, I have had an opportunity to assist in accomplishing great things not only for our area, but for the country. Being a member of the minority party will certainly take some adjustment, but I also think this is an opportunity for the Congress as a whole to move beyond the division we have seen so much of recently and move toward accomplishing great things for the American people.

Since my first election to Congress, I have attempted to advance the idea that Congress should be a more bipartisan and civil institution. I firmly believe the two parties have disagreements on issues and policies which often lead to major disagreements. I also believe our institution calls for vigorous debate on these issues. As the 110th Congress unfolds over the next two years, I am sure the debate will reflect these disagreements.

The fact of the matter is that with a divided government, it is imperative that both parties work together and it is very difficult to work together unless both sides are respectful and civil in their deliberations. Compromise and bipartisanship must be a hallmark of the next Congress or we risk two years of gridlock. For the moment, the leadership of both parties, as well as the President’s, has promised to work together for the good of the people. I certainly hope that continues to be the case.

Despite serving in the minority for the first time as a Congressman, I look forward to the new session. I will continue as a member of the Appropriations Committee—an assignment which I believe is tremendously helpful as citizens and officials throughout Central and Western Illinois look to fund worthy projects in their communities. While my service on the Intelligence Committee will come to a close, the past eight years on this committee has left me with tremendous insight and first-hand knowledge of our intelligence, defense and homeland security sectors at a time when these are of paramount concern to our country.

I believe my job as the Representative for the 18th District does not change even with the shift in majorities. I will continue to work with people throughout the district to get things done. I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner with our local officials and other members from Illinois. I will continue to vote on the issues of the day as your representative in Washington. I believe it is a great privilege to serve as your Congressman. I take the job seriously and I thank all of you for the opportunity. IBI