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Day ain't over yet

I want to close out this bizarre and remarkable year with a heartfelt wish for a Happy New Year and some thoughts and resolutions.

First, I'm thankful that, even in these rancorous times, we made real progress on some critical issues. We began to meaningfully address the horrendous opioid problem that has devastated our country, including Connecticut. As the year wound down, we passed the First Step Act to start the process of criminal justice reform by revisiting sentencing guidelines, reducing recidivism and ending some of the more brutal aspects of our penal system.

Here at home, I was thrilled to see my SERVE Act passed into law. I worked with retired Marine and Sacred Heart student Nick Quinzi to make it easier for student veterans to get housing and pursue their educations. In Stamford, we secured funding to make the busy Transportation Center more efficient and pleasant to use.

Second, I don't need to tell you, as I reflect on the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are furloughed and without paychecks, DREAMers contemplating another year of uncertainty, or farmers watching their crops rot, that our president continues to behave in ways we would not accept in a child.

I have watched my Republican colleagues tolerate and even encourage presidential behavior for which they would have summarily impeached and imprisoned a Democratic president. Fortunately, on Election Day, record swaths of Americans stood up to say "No More!" at every level of government.

It has been nerve-wracking but gratifying to see voters, the judiciary, the media and ordinary citizen-activists push back against the indecent and brutal authoritarianism of Donald Trump. So far, the rule of law has prevailed. There are not many countries in which a president's lawyer, campaign manager, deputy campaign manager, National Security Advisor and other close confidants could be prosecuted and jailed without violence or the military in the streets.

But as I like to say, "Day ain't over yet".

You should know a couple of resolutions I have made about how I will keep faith with you and with all that I love about this country, including the Constitution I have sworn to protect.

Importantly, I represent you. You have needs. Donald Trump is President of the United States. So I will look for things like rebuilding our highways, railways, and airports, or reducing our health care costs on which the president and I may be able to agree. I believe that good policy is good politics.

Critically, my desire to find common ground will in no way stop me from defending free expression, the free press, the dignity and independence of our judiciary, the rights of women or the demands of basic human decency. These are not Democratic or Republican things. They are American things. So when the president (or anyone) attacks them, expect to see me online, on TV and on the rooftops defending them.

Finally, on Election Day, the American people handed Democrats control of the People's House. Since then, I have been telling my fellow Democrats that we should think of that not as a win in-and-of-itself, but as an invitation to a challenging audition for 2020. We need to stand against the president's vilification and mockery of the marginalized even as we stand for more opportunity for all Americans. We need to address kitchen table economic anxiety and the creeping catastrophe of climate change. We need to be smart about the head-spinning changes in how and where we work and how and when we are educated. We need to start rebuilding our influence and respect abroad.

Our children and history will judge us not just on whether we do these things, but on how we do them. I have heard the calls to climb into the mud with the president and his attack dogs. I get it. I am enraged by the savage mistreatment of refugees and migrants, the casual bigotry and the constant assault on the truth. But I know that the way out of our national crisis lies in the insistent and universally-felt (if oft ignored) notion that we are better than this. We can't just say that. We must model it. True leadership is not separable from dignity, humility and a sense of higher calling.

That's the fight I want to fight in 2019. I hope you'll join me.

Happy New Year!

Jim

Posted on December 31, 2018.

Meet Jim

Congressman Jim Himes is a tireless voice for common-sense, independent solutions to the challenges facing Connecticut. He's looking out for the middle class, fighting for affordable health care for all, taking on special interests like the NRA to end gun violence, and working to create economic opportunity for working families.

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