Friends, as we see the dawning of a new year, our politics must also begin anew. For the last two years we have seen the worst in our political system. The demeaning and divisive comments by many of the candidates in the 2016 election took center stage over the issues we must face together as a nation. When one group would bring up an issue such as race, the response was to act as if there was nothing wrong and deride the person bringing up the issue as a whiner or accuse them of "Identity Politics!", a term invented to make the group or person highlighting a problem seem small or worse, radical and out of the mainstream. When a person or group would bring up income inequality, opponents would cry "Class Warfare!", or worse, that the group of people hurt by inequality were shiftless and lazy. When one group would point out that the healthcare system needs attention and support, others would attack a program designed to help people as "a disaster" that must be ended - but offer no credible alternative.
We are better than this. The issues facing us in 2018 are challenging. Many seem intractable insofar that they have been with us for decades with little focus paid to them by our elected officials. We must rethink our approach. Instead of demagoguery, we must have debate. Instead of deferment we must have decision. We must come together regardless of political ideology and tackle the great challenges with unity and purpose. Our cause should be a common cause; no child should go hungry, be homeless, be uneducated, or be unsafe. Our efforts in the legislature should focus on those least able to help themselves and bring the full force of our ideas, our passions and our intelligence toward achieving the hopes of every parent in this state: Making our children's lives better.
Hope for a better life fuels innovation, it fuels compassion, it fuels positive action for our families and our neighbors. Let us declare a covenant to each other that we will not be distracted or deterred. Let us put away petty grievances that cause division when there should be common effort. Let us begin today and establish a cycle of progress that becomes so momentous, that when we finally see those hopes realized, we will have established a legacy that our children will be proud of.
I wish you all great success in the coming year. Let's get to work.