Political campaigns are heating up across America, at a time when a majority of Americans are concerned about the direction of our great nation. Many are frustrated or even outraged by the lack of civil discourse in the process of electing those who will serve in public office. We all want real solutions offered for the problems we face.
As I travel and meet with so many Southwest Floridians, I find all of you would love to see an end to the “bomb throwing” and constant personal attacks in political campaigns, and of course in the media. You’d rather see some civility and serious conversation about how we might best address today’s challenges.
I know firsthand how counterproductive negative politics can be. And I understand that many of you believe your voices are not heard above all the shouting and partisan rhetoric.
In recent elections, many Americans have been going to the polls and voting for outsiders over career politicians. I myself came to Congress this way. Recently, we’ve seen political outsiders rise to the top of the polls in the Republican 2016 presidential contest. “We the people” are saying that Washington, D.C. is broken. Grass roots Americans are demanding an end to business as usual – and asking for their elected officials to do more to pave the way for opportunity and good-paying jobs.
It’s clearly time for those serving, or wanting to serve, to heed these calls. We need government policies that help private sector companies invest and create jobs at home. And then we need the government to get out of their way. This is a personal mission for me. I ran for Congress on a plan for economic growth – and I will continue to focus on this as your representative. From my experiences in the private sector, I understand what needs to be done.
Our sluggish economy cannot provide the opportunity and good-paying jobs needed by the many millions unemployed or struggling to pay their bills. That’s largely because we have the highest business taxes in the world, and too many unnecessary regulations that hurt American competitiveness, while raising consumer prices. We have more than 10 million Americans looking for work; millions more who are under-employed or who have given up looking for work. In total, a record 90 million are out of the workplace.
Meanwhile, we’re considering unwise trade bills that would cost more good-paying American jobs – lost to unfair foreign trade practices. The worst of these practices is currency manipulation, which artificially lowers prices on foreign-produced goods, while artificially raising prices on U.S.- exported goods. Our trade deficits, and related job losses, reflect this. This is not free trade – this is unfair trade.
I will not support any trade agreements that hurt American competitiveness. We’ve got to stop making deals that close our factories and send our workers to the unemployment lines – or to lower paying jobs that don’t make use of their world class skills.
Despite so many Americans out of work, we have broken borders, and millions of illegal foreign workers. And, every year, we add another 1,000,000 legal immigrants plus 700,000 visitors on foreign work visas – all competing for the limited jobs available here in the U.S.
Far too many Americans are on some form of government assistance. Other hard-working Americans do the best they can for their families. But the bills keep piling up, their wages stagnate, and they just don’t see a path to get ahead.
And in Washington, D.C. – the federal government passes budgets and spending plans that add to the national debt every year – while punting on much needed entitlement reform. Some politicians promise even more “freebies” – in the hopes of getting elected.
That’s the bad news.
The good news – we can fix this. But all citizens need to get involved and get informed – and elect pro-growth candidates who are committed to fiscal responsibility, opportunity, and fairness.
I’m an optimist. I believe that, with new leadership and new policies in place by 2017, we can turn the tide toward economic growth and new job creation.
We can move millions off welfare. We need tax reform, entitlement reform, and a balanced budget. And ultimately, we’ve got to start paying down the national debt. We need to put patients back in charge of their healthcare, and put parents and local communities in charge of education. We need to strengthen our military, and restore America’s leadership in the world.
All Americans are in the same boat. We all want the same things for our families, for our fellow citizens, and for future generations – opportunity, fairness, liberty, and security. Of course, we don’t all agree on the specific solutions. But where we disagree, let’s not be disagreeable. Let’s listen to and respect each other – and then find some common ground. Let’s find solutions that can better unite rather than divide all Americans – regardless of race, gender, age, religion, or role in society.
In searching for common ground in Congress, I will remain a voice calling for more civility and an end to the vitriolic partisan divisiveness. My fellow members respect me as one who never personally attacks any member on either side of the aisle. The next time you hear me utter a negative personal attack against another public servant will be the first time. Name calling and personal insults are always counterproductive. I achieved success in the private sector with teamwork –always respecting those who see things differently. My parents imbedded this principle in me – and that’s how I operate every day in Congress.
Since you sent me to Congress, my team and I have accomplished some important things for Southwest Florida – with legislation, funding, casework, correspondence and meetings with federal, state and local officials, and other interventions to benefit our District’s veterans, legal immigrants, water resources, beaches, the Everglades, harbors, businesses, law enforcement personnel, educational institutions, airports, and flood map errors that are hurting constituents. We are proud of what we’ve achieved over the past year and a half and are eager to do more.
Going forward, I will continue to do whatever I can to support the people of FL-19, and promote unity in Congress – while always holding firm to my core principles.
As always, please let my team know how we can better serve you. Call us in Washington, D.C. or in one of our district offices – or stop by and say “hi” when you are out and about. And please visit our website at: www.clawson.house.gov
Congressman Clawson represents Florida’s 19th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves on the House Foreign Affairs and House Homeland Security Committees. He is the former CEO of Hayes Lemmerz International, the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive wheels.