Will Haskell: Happy Fourth of July

Across the 26th District, families are celebrating Independence Day. Between the barbecues and the fireworks, this is a time for reflection and gratitude to those who came before us. Despite the challenges we face as a country and as a community, I’m struck by the enduring power of our shared values. Values such as equality, justice and democratic rule have long been at the heart of every level of American government, transcending partisanship. For 243 years, generations of Americans have worked to realize those values. Obviously, that work isn’t over. Now, we need more voices involved in the conversation about how to move our state and country forward.

Rather than writing about tolls or budgets this week, I wanted to take a moment to thank those who have attended my town halls, reached out via email or called to share their perspective. I’m especially grateful to those with whom I disagree, as we were often able to discover some common ground and root our disagreements in mutual respect. In four town halls last week, I answered questions about my work in the state Senate and asked how I can best represent the interests of our community. In many of these conversations, students and their parents have expressed gratitude about the action we took to prevent gun violence and make sure every student feels safe in the classroom. In other moments, constituents have expressed frustration about the bills we didn’t pass or the slow pace of change in Hartford. It hasn’t always been easy.

In challenging political moments, it’s too easy to turn away from our neighbors when differences arise. We owe it to all those who came before us, as well as those who will come after us, to reject this habit. After all, this nation was founded on the principle that our differences make us stronger. E Pluribus Unum reminds us that out of many ethnicities, many religions, and many communities came one.

If you haven’t spoken up in a while, please know that we need you. This country and this community needs your voice, regardless of your political party support. We need you to weigh in and share your vision for how to address climate change, the opioid epidemic and modernize our infrastructure.

I’ve been attending a lot of Eagle Scout ceremonies lately, so I can’t help but paraphrase a principle of scouting that I’ve seen so many young people embody; let’s leave this state a little better than we found it. On this Fourth of July, regardless of your political party, I ask that you get involved in the movement to improve our community. Every voice makes a difference.

Happy Fourth of July.