As this issue goes to print, clearly the focus on government is a timely one. We just inaugurated a new president after a contentious election season and amidst violence at the U.S. Capitol—all after surviving a most harrowing and exhausting year. Illinois has a new House speaker for the first time in decades, and the City of Peoria will elect a new mayor this spring. It is a season of change, and our cherished democracy has never been more critical.
I admit to getting a lump in my throat hearing the national anthem, and I always felt a chill of anticipation flying into DC as we passed by the Washington Monument. I’ve strolled the National Mall numerous times, in awe of the men and women who fought and sacrificed for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I’ve watched government in action and was always respectful of the process. And I have taken great pride in the bipartisan spirit that has long been a hallmark of public servants from central Illinois.
“Public service is serving the nation and the people you represent as best you can with honesty and integrity,” as Congressman Bob Michel once stated so plainly. Respect, civility, honesty, integrity… these are traits that should never go out of style. Yet we see and hear horror stories of families and friends so vehemently divided over party and politics.
All of us must find ways to lower the temperature so our country can begin to heal. In this age of rampant misinformation, we need to be careful with the source of our news and agree on some basic facts and truths. Most importantly, we must realize that our fellow Americans are not our enemies, no matter how much we might disagree. I believe all of this is within our power. In fact, it’s the only way to solve our most pressing problems and fulfill our nation’s inherent promise as a force for good.
It requires all of us to participate in the process—whether simply casting your vote, getting more involved in a campaign or issue, or running for office yourself. We must continue to support each other, as neighbors and as a community. Regardless of our differences, all of us want to live in peace. We want our community to prosper and we want to be proud of the place we call home. This is the message we hope to convey: a return to civility and a renewal of pride. PM