Throughout my three-decade career in the Air Force, I routinely heard “mission first!” It carried me through 16 assignments, five commands, and four deployments to the Middle East. Every airman has a mission, and they had better know what their mission is and if they are getting the job done.
We have a mission in Congress to put the country first. This means we defend America, ensure we stay the land of opportunity, and we solve our most pressing problems within the confines of the Constitution. Too many see their mission as getting reelected, or they focus on their party winning the majority in the next Congress. There have been too many bills this Congress that are messaging bills and not serious attempts at actually solving problems.
Unfortunately, it’s all about the 2020 election for far too many. We cannot wait until the next election cycle to start fixing our immigration system, addressing runaway healthcare costs, signing new trade deals, and replacing our aging infrastructure. Real people are hurting while elected leaders are working on the wrong mission and preoccupied with the next election.
I, along with Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., started the For Country Caucus for this reason. We are a group of 20 bipartisan veterans in Congress that know we must work together to make progress for our country. We must start finding consensus and identifying what we agree on, versus focusing on where we disagree. We have pledged to conduct ourselves with civility and not be a part of the contempt and vitriol that has become the trademark of Washington.
It was obvious in my first term that our most pressing problems can’t be addressed by fiat from one party. The second term is no different. Real solutions to immigration, healthcare, and trade will require compromise and consensus-seeking. If our mission is putting the country first, then we must stop the total preoccupation of scheming about the next election.
I hear from our constituents in Nebraska that they want to see Congress working together. Our voters don’t like the hyperpartisanship and hate that fails our country. Stop the name-calling, quit the grandstanding, and start meeting somewhere in the middle to move our country forward.
Our country is the best and strongest country in the world. If we want to preserve our freedoms and the opportunity that all of our citizens have to climb the ladder and achieve their dreams, then our politics of gridlock must be transformed.
Putting the country first must be our mission.
Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican, represents Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. He sits on the House Armed Services Committee. Bacon served in the Air Force for nearly 30 years and retired as a brigadier general.