We heard from several Republican elected officials last night, but we wanted to be fair and share some Democratic views from our Georgia delegation. Below you will find statements from Rep. John Lewis (D, GA-5), Rep. Hank Johnson (D, GA-4), and Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D, GA-2).
Rep. John Lewis (D, GA-5):
“Tonight President Obama appealed to the very best in the American people. He suggested we all have a responsibility, as members of Congress and as participants in our democracy, to come together to serve the greatest and highest good. He encouraged us to us to lay aside whatever divides us and find ways to move forward on common ground , knowing that doing so benefits all of us, including those who depend on our leadership around the world.
He spoke with great faith about the dignity of the countless and nameless Americans who are the lifeblood of our democracy. It is those ordinary men, women and children who are the true keepers of the American flame. He reminded us that our vision of a fair and just society can only be realized when we participate as citizens. He charged us to vote, to speak out and speak up as we face the challenges that lay ahead.
He appealed to us to open up the political process and let everyone come in. We cannot fear a change that is inevitable. We must embrace the calling of the 21st century. He encouraged us to take the money out of politics so that the people select us through their votes as their representatives, not party politics, gerrymandering or, big money interests. As a nation and as a people, we must find a better way.
Most importantly, I think President Obama made it crystal clear that the union is strong. Some politicians who are running for president make it appear that the country is weak, in service to their own ambitions. They want us to believe that the American dream is no more. But President Obama said tonight, that even though our nation is challenged by change, it is still strong. It is still vibrant, and it is still the most powerful nation on earth. And I believe the history books will show, that President Barack Obama left this nation much better shape than he found it.”
Reactions from Reps. Hank Johnson and Sanford Bishop are below the fold.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D, GA-4):
“What we saw tonight was a positive, upbeat speech. America has a hard-earned right to that optimism thanks to the grit and determination of citizens across the country. It’s been an historic run over the last seven years. From helping turn around an economy amidst worst economic crisis since the Great Depression to finally making universal, affordable health care a reality for all represents remarkable progress. Ending two wars and forging the deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon all while re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba is what progress looks like in foreign policy.
Under our president’s leadership, we have led the international community and world leaders to a global agreement to combat climate change, while cutting pollution from power plants, vehicles, and agriculture here at home and making the largest investment in renewable energy in our nation’s history.
But we have more work to do. Income inequality, flat wages and long-term unemployment continue to plague our society. Using the tax code to level the playing field for everyday working Americans so that corporations and the ultra-wealthy pay their fair share of taxes is a good first step.
I look forward to working with my colleagues on making college more affordable, providing paid sick leave to help working families, boosting high-tech manufacturing, addressing our broken immigration and justice systems and ensuring retirement security for all Americans.”
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D, GA-2)
“The President delivered a sincere and realistic speech about the state of our nation today, the challenges we face, and what we must do to meet these challenges. Over the past seven years, our economy has been rebuilt, affordable healthcare and renewable energy is more accessible, and America’s military and diplomatic standing has strengthened. And yet, while we have come so far since 2008, there is still a long way to go before the American people have a Congress characterized by bipartisan problem solving and not partisan bickering.
Debate is a natural consequence of a representative democracy. Gridlock, on the other hand, is not. Sitting down with those across the aisle is not just an act of placing faith in political or ideological adversaries, but an act of placing faith in our egalitarian democratic system which requires consensus to work.
And so, I will continue working with my Democratic and Republican colleagues not only to support innovation for the industries of tomorrow, ensure that the children of Georgia have the education needed for the jobs of tomorrow, and to secure our nation against the threats of tomorrow, but to also provide America the most effective Congress for tomorrow. It is an accountable, responsible, and more transparent government. One complete with lawmakers focused on forging an understanding of what it is to truly work together. Simply put, one worthy of the faith and trust of the American people.”