A plea for political healing from the U.S. Senate floor

It doesn’t take much reporting on Capitol Hill to figure out that nerves are still raw, not just in the nation, but here in the Congress as well, on the outcome of the 2016 election. One Senator took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to urge all sides to find ways to heal those wounds.

Most of America probably isn’t familiar with the senior Senator from the state of Florida. Bill Nelson served 12 years in the U.S. House, and has been in the Senate since being elected in 2000.  While he is most certainly a proud Democrat, Nelson is not someone who routinely goes to the floor with overheated rhetoric.

Many times during his political career here in Washington, Nelson has used the line, “As the Good Book says, come, let us reason together,” as a way to urge compromise.

On Wednesday afternoon, Nelson had just finished a speech on the issue of expanded offshore oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, a move that he has steadfastly opposed because of what he argues is a distinct environmental risk to the beaches of his home state.

When Nelson finished his remarks, no one else was on the Senate floor seeking to speak, so the Florida Democrat offered his thoughts on how the nation needed to heal in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

Nelson called this year’s campaign “ugly,” as he noted that “awful things” were said by both sides.

Nelson: “Let me just say, from the perspective as the senior Senator of Florida, that I think it is the obligation of those of us who were backing the candidate that did not win the presidency, to, as President Obama has said, is that the President-Elect will be the President.

“And it’s incumbent on the rest of us, regardless of party, to reach out and to try to help the new President on behalf, and for the sake of our country.

“This Senator, who has always tried in my four decades of public service – always tried to reach out in a bipartisan way and bring people together to build consensus, in order to govern – will continue to do so.

“And this Senator greets the new Administration with that statement.

“It’s also important that a statement like that be made, especially in this time in which we are so rent asunder, where we are so divided, and where we have come through an election that has been – the only word that I can think of is ‘ugly.’

“Things were said that in ordinary course of conversation in this election, that would not be said. And particularly, as we try to heal the wounds of both sides, and take back the awful things that were said, and create an atmosphere where we can come together for the sake of our country, then that is especially important – and this Senator is going to contribute to that.

“It is my hope that it will be received on all sides, that we will reach out and try to bring people together.

“Mr. President, I think it was important to say that, particularly at a time where the feelings have been hurt, and the feelings have been so high and so tense.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

 

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