With the inauguration of a new President upon us, our country is at a precipice where it’s essential to protect our democracy, end lawlessness and violence, and fight for a stronger, better nation. In recent weeks and throughout the past year, we’ve seen destructive politics and unproductive discourse within our great nation and in our own state.
It is an understatement to say the events at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6th were disturbing, and they are not an accurate illustration of what America stands for. In light of these recent events, I am joining leaders across Arizona and the country to stress that currently we are fractured, but we are not broken. As we look forward, we can and must do better.
A few years ago, I had the honor and privilege of hearing former FDNY Chief Richard Picciotto speak about the Sept. 11th attacks. Chief Picciotto recounted the events of that tragic day for our country. On that day, he responded to the news that the World Trade Center was on fire—at the time the South Tower had already collapsed, and his team was racing to evacuate the North Tower before it, too, fell. They weren’t fast enough. The building collapsed, encasing them in millions of pounds of debris and total darkness. Four hours later, he miraculously emerged alive but changed forever, much like our country. He shared with me, and the rest of the audience, what he learned. He said, “[t]hey didn’t attack Republicans or Democrats on 9/11, they attacked Americans. Those who attempted to destroy us actually brought us closer together—as one nation.”
Then he asked, “What’s happened to us? How have we forgotten the lesson we learned that day?”
I wrote about this experience a couple of years ago, and I have thought about this often over the past year, as we have seen hateful rhetoric expand to include lawlessness and violence.
We are fond of saying that we will never forget, but we have forgotten one of the most important lessons of 9/11. First and foremost, we need to remember that we are all on the same team. Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are all Americans, and in our great state, we are also all Arizonans.
At our Legislative Kick-Off event, I had the opportunity to talk to Senate President Karen Fann and Speaker of the House Rusty Bowers. I asked them about the division both nationally and locally and if they felt we could really come together again. I was caught off guard when Speaker Bowers responded with “I guess the question is, what if we don’t?”
What if we don’t? That sentiment was not reflective of the American and Arizona that I know and care so deeply about. Until I heard it said out loud, that thought hadn’t really occurred to me. Speaker Bowers continued by saying “considering both thoughts, I would much rather find ways to get along.”
That is the sentiment that represents how we will recover from the impacts of the pandemic and emerge stronger than ever. I was encouraged by our legislative leaders’ steadfast commitment to working toward policies that transcend partisanship and will create a brighter future for Arizona.
I believe that the number of us who prefer to find ways to get along and return stronger far exceeds those who do not. The Greater Phoenix Chamber stands committed to serving as a community leader focused on advocating for policies that represent the best interest of our local businesses and our community and allowing Arizonans to thrive. I look forward to working with our elected officials and all of you to ensure Arizona remains a national leader in our recovery efforts.
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