BOSTON – Today, U.S. Senator Scott Brown will deliver a campaign speech, “Americans First,” at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown. The speech will focus on Brown’s bipartisan message, and address the need for civility in government.
The excerpts below are remarks prepared for delivery:
“I try not to divide people up into easy categories – assuming the best because they agree with me, or the worst because they don’t. Especially in politics, I’ve found it’s the only way to operate. If you go around assigning bad motives to everyone who might think differently, you’ll end up with a lot more enemies than achievements. It’s the low road, and all it leads to is a dead end.
“You see, the problem with Washington is that as soon as you arrive there you realize the town is bitterly divided into two sides – one good and one bad. And everyone believes they are on the good side, and on the other side are the bad guys.
“People don’t just challenge your ideas, they challenge your motives. People don’t view each other as good people trying to achieve good things in different ways. They look at each other as enemies who need to be defeated at all costs. Is it any wonder so little gets done?”
“There has to be a basic respect across party lines. Without it, all you’re going to get are bad laws and a lot of ill will. And let me tell you, in politics just like in the rest of life, once you let a bitter spirit take over, nothing good will ever come from it.
“That’s an attitude you want to steer far clear of. And it’s not even that hard to do, if you’re thinking straight about the work of a United States senator. In my case, I only had to remember what I told the people of Massachusetts when I asked for the job. I said I would answer only to them, and not get caught up in anyone else’s agenda. I said I’d work with anyone, if the cause was right, and I didn’t much care how the parties lined up on the question. I didn’t run for this office – setting out as the longest of long shots, putting I don’t know how many miles on my truck – all so that I could take orders from party leaders or anyone else. Each time the roll is called, I know that the decision is mine alone to make, going by my own lights and trying to show the best of Massachusetts.
“The way I look at it, a good bill is a good bill, and it doesn’t matter who came up with the idea. That’s the mindset that gets things done, and every now and then you can see it in action. Take for example the STOCK Act, which President Obama signed into law early last month. I introduced the bill in the Senate after seeing a report on 60 Minutes about the appearance of insider trading by members of Congress. The new law prohibits members and staff from using non-public information they obtain on the job to try to profit financially. The bill moved fast. We passed it in the Senate by a vote of 96 to 3, and it passed the House 417 to 2. It doesn’t get much more bipartisan than that. And it’s especially impressive because we got it done in an election year.
“I can give you other examples of Washington working like it’s supposed to. When the president and his team were putting together a jobs bill last year, they chose to include two provisions that I had sponsored in the Senate. One was a bill to repeal a stealth tax that was hurting businesses and contractors across the nation. The other was my bill to give a tax credit to businesses that do the right thing and hire unemployed veterans. Helping veterans is not a tough call, and,when it came time to vote, party membership had nothing to do with it.
“As a matter of fact, the rest of the president’s jobs package didn’t survive, and these were the only two provisions that passed in the House and Senate. A few people told me that maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea to go to the signing ceremony at the White House. But when the invitation came, I answered “yes” right away. Of course I wanted to be there to see a commonsense idea become law. That law wouldn’t be any better or worse if it were a Republican president signing it. There’s such a thing as shared accomplishment, and in my book it sure beats sharing the blame for doing nothing at all.”
“Last year I had a chance to visit the Reagan Library, and also the privilege of chatting that night with Nancy Reagan. She told me about when her husband was shot, and how Speaker Tip O’Neill had come to the hospital when the president was out of surgery. As Mrs. Reagan recalled, the Speaker and the president prayed together, holding hands and reciting the 23rd Psalm.
“At moments like that, of course, no one’s thinking about party loyalty or the conflicts of politics. At that and other such moments in our history, at least for a little while, we could all see things more clearly. Our differences don’t disappear when some national tragedy occurs, but the hostility does – all the false postures, uncharitable words, and airs of superiority that sometimes get the best of us. And the point is, it shouldn’t take some terrible event to open our eyes. When the habits of hostility and distrust go away, they should go away forever – and this decent, good-hearted country would be better off for it.”