Smucker: Congress Must Serve as Example of Civility

February 14, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), in a speech this evening on the House floor, urged his colleagues on both sides of the aisle to serve as an example of civility and respect in today’s public discourse. At the beginning of this Congress, Rep. Smucker signed a “Commitment to Civility,” a pledge signed by a bipartisan group of 46 freshman House members that outlines their efforts to encourage productive dialogue, build consensus, and work to restore the public’s trust. You can watch the full speech here.

Rep. Smucker’s full remarks as delivered:

“Thank you to my colleague from Louisiana.

“It is an honor to represent the people of Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District and to serve the community in which I grew up.

“I was very pleased a few months ago to come to Washington and join the new-member orientation. This was a great opportunity for all of us to meet our new colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I must say, as it’s already been mentioned, I was impressed.

“As we got to know one another and talk about our vision for this upcoming Congress, we all agreed we wanted to work together as much as possible. We decided we wanted to work to find common ground.

“Today, across Pennsylvania and across America, finding common ground between Republicans and Democrats looks and sounds nearly impossible.

“We here in Congress may disagree on the issues. We may disagree on solutions. But that’s good.

“That’s good because the purpose of this chamber is to be a deliberative body. And it’s good because collectively we represent a wide range of issues across the political spectrum.

“We are supposed to, and in fact we are even expected to, disagree. But we must always do so in a civil and respectful manner.

“We must understand that while we may disagree on the issues and solutions, we share, all of us, the common goal of serving our constituents and of improving their lives. We must understand that just because we may disagree with one another – that doesn’t mean the other side is un-American or ‘out to get us.’

“Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, calls this ‘political motive asymmetry.’ Brooks says ‘a majority of people in our country today who are politically active believe that they are motivated by love but the other side is motivated by hate.’

“Now I know I might disagree with some of my colleagues, but I can tell you they are not motivated by hate. If we are to be successful in this chamber and in discussions in our communities across the country, we must rid our discourse of this ‘political motive asymmetry.’

“Then we will be able, together, to find solutions more easily to the problems that we face.

“I am hopeful that our freshman class, along with the rest of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, will be able to do what is stated in our Commitment to Civility: make the government work more efficiently and more effectively, help build consensus and restore public trust, and serve as a positive influence on society at large.

“We here in Congress are charged with an enormous task. In today’s divisive and heated public discourse, we must be an example to our constituents by showing respect for one another at all times.

“Thank you. I yield back.”