From the Hill to the Mountains: A weekly column by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
January 23, 2013
The Inauguration of a President – any President – is a special time for our country. It is a star-spangled celebration of our democracy, with parades, parties and patriotism galore. But it also is a unique opportunity for a new beginning – a chance to renew our country’s spirit by casting aside the pettiness of party politics for a new politics of national purpose.
It is time for a new beginning in America – a time for both parties to stop worrying about the next election and start working for the next generation. And every day that I am in the United States Senate, representing the great people of West Virginia, I will do everything I possibly can to make that happen.
One generation plants the tree, the next enjoys the shade. That’s the way it is supposed to be in America – every generation leaving our country richer in spirit as well as in wealth.
But for too long now, members of Congress have allowed their political differences to keep them from finding the common ground necessary to address the challenges our country faces.
The American people have come to wonder if Congress will ever work for them again, if its members can stop thinking and acting as Democrats and Republicans but as Americans. Our Constitution, after all, begins not with “We the Democrats” or “We the Republicans” but “We the people.”
I am confident that we can win back the confidence of the American people, if we can keep reminding ourselves of what Thomas Jefferson said at his first Inauguration: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
As we begin the work of the 113th Congress, I start with a fresh optimism and determination to put our country’s fiscal house in order. I truly believe that we can – because the simple fact is we must. I have spent the last two years working for a “big fix” to our budget deficit and national debt, and I will spend every day pursuing the same goal.
On top of that, I will continue to fight for my top priorities: keeping our promises to our seniors, veterans and children, achieving energy independence, getting our fiscal house in order, ending the war in Afghanistan and addressing mass violence in a way that brings all parties to the table.
And as I reflect on the second Inauguration of President Obama, I pray that he not only inspires our country with his words but also with his deeds and that together, as Americans, we can find the common ground that leads us to higher ground.
I am so honored that the people of West Virginia have allowed me to serve and represent them in our nation’s capital. I vow to each and every one of you that every day that I am your Senator, I will put our great state first. And after the nonsense of the past few years, it’s clearer than ever that the Hill needs a good dose of common sense from the mountains of West Virginia.