Editor’s Note: a transcript of a speech given yesterday on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Steve Scalise…
This morning an unbalanced individual carried out a cowardly attack not only against members and staff of this Congress, but against Democratic institutions. This terrorist, and he is a terrorist, desired to destroy our Democratic institutions. We as a country cannot allow this to happen. If anything, this must strengthen our resolve to do what is right for our country and for each other. We cannot let this shooter defeat good.
I’ve known Steve Scalise for decades. I served with Steve in the Louisiana Senate and then in the US House of Representatives. I have called his wife Jennifer and will be available to help his family in any which way I can.
Steve is a man of good character. He loves the US and Louisiana. He loves the LSU Tigers, which of course is our mutual affection as well. It is a privilege to serve with someone who cares so deeply about the people whom we are both honored to represent. My prayers are with Steve, Jennifer and their children.
We also think of Zack Barth, Matt Mika, Agent David Bailey and Agent Krystal Griner. We think of them and are gratified they were able to receive medical treatment quickly and ask that everyone join in keeping they and their families in our prayers as well.
To all of them, we want them to know, that we in the US and in Louisiana support you.
I specifically commend the Capitol Police for all they do and again Agents Bailey and Griner for their bravery and quick action to protect those in danger. We are blessed for the service of the Capitol Police and fortunate that they were there to prevent this attack from being even more tragic.
Where do we go from here? Frankly we as a country need to come together, try and reinject civility into our political rhetoric. We can disagree on policy. It is that disagreement and our ability to discuss and debate these differences that makes democracy successful. But the key word here is “debate.”
There is a difference between debate and attacking the motives and good faith of another. Debates are healthy, productive and you respect those in the opposition. You discuss ideas and not perceived intentions.
When respect and good faith in the intentions of the other are lost though, perhaps it does more to hurt than to heal.
We as individuals need to look at how we use rhetoric, rhetoric that can cause someone who is unbalanced to commit an act of violence as we saw this morning. Anyone saying things to vilify another, to portray them as evil, we have to recognize that can drive some again to acts of violence.
Let’s do what we can to move this country to the era of respectful debate.
Now let me end where I began. We cannot let political terrorism win. We must stand firm in support for our democracy and our Democratic institutions. We must carry on not letting evil triumph. We do that by recognizing that we are all first children of God, then all Americans. We come together, stand united doing that which is best for our country and for each other.