As part of the naturalization ceremony for 45 new United States citizens, Virginia’s U.S. Senator Mark Warner gave them a lesson on Washington DC gridlock. “Where I work right now it is kind of crazy,” Warner told the new citizens who took their oath Friday at the Poff Federal Building.
Warner explained that in the past months “it seems like the politicians in our country are spending more time bickering than getting things done.”
Sen. Warner has been making the rounds to all corners of the state and was winding down his whirlwind tour at a NASCAR race in Bristol on Saturday. In Roanoke he explained to the new citizens how a poll taken recently showed that 87 percent of U.S. citizens “were pretty angry at Congress … I’ve not found the 13 percent that were not,” chuckled Warner.
The point he was trying to get across was how important it was for them to be “active and informed citizens.” He called this one of the most important things they could do to protect the country. He told them how unique America’s form of government is compared to the countries they came from – calling it “kind of messy.”
Warner explained that the President, House of Representatives and the Senate have to work together and compromise to set national policy. “It is one of the most unique forms of government [anywhere] in the world,” said Warner.
With their new citizenship status “comes responsibility,” he told them. Warner challenged each of them to “become part of the debate”—to be respectful and to be willing to listen and be willing to hear different voices … Even voices they don’t agree with.
He said “if you watch FOX news, turn on MSNBC. If all you watch MSNBC, turn on FOX news and realize there are different voices.”
Warner said that “if we are to remain the greatest country in the world,” they as new citizens have to understand that “neither political party has a monopoly on the truth, a monopoly on patriotism or a monopoly on all the right answers.”
He welcomed their new voices and personal experiences into America’s melting pot process of trying to get things right. This “will be the most valuable contribution you will make to our country,” he said.
Warner concluded by thanking them for giving him the strength to go back out to more town hall meetings to face difficult questions, knowing that they believe in what America stands for. “Please make sure your voices are heard,” he said.
Several new citizens were encouraged to speak. One new citizen from Mexico spoke while holding a small American flag in front of him, saying, “the journey doesn’t end when you become a citizen.” He believed it had just started for him and said he takes the responsibility seriously.
Each new citizen had a story of sacrifice and thanked God, their parents, family and friends. Most of all they were thankful for the kindness of the American people.