Hoosier common sense – Sen. Young

May 6, 2017 (Windy Hill Beach, South Carolina) — Freshman Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) highlighted “Hoosier common sense” in his first Senate floor speech, as published in May 4, 2017 Congressional Record:

Mr. YOUNG. Today, Mr. President, I rise to speak from the floor of this proud Chamber for the first time. My message today is, at once, a warning and an invitation.

Dear colleagues, as our Senate increasingly grows more partisan, we move further and further away from the practical governance our Founding Fathers espoused, and so today I would like to talk about the principle of the common good in the hopes that this body might be reminded that is our unifying purpose for serving.

Two Hoosiers exemplify the principle of working for the common good that I believe our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Governor Ed Whitcomb was the 43rd Governor of Indiana. A hero from World War II, he twice escaped capture from the Japanese, making it to safety by swimming through shark-infested waters all night to get to safety. Whitcomb pursued the common good in the midst of a rift in his own Republican Party. He successfully led Indiana in improving our State’s highways, mental health services, and creating our State’s Higher Education Commission. He bucked his own party’s interests frequently to do what he thought was right for Hoosiers. Governor Whitcomb has been described as Indiana’s most amazing Governor. He passed away this past year and in tribute Republicans and Democrats alike acknowledged that he served all Hoosiers well.

Hoosier common sense on teamwork

Coach John Wooden was born and raised in Indiana, and he learned to coach basketball there before heading to UCLA where he became one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time. Wooden understood the importance of working together as a team, that working together as a team was better than working as individuals. Wooden acknowledged this principle in saying, “Ten field horses couldn’t pull an empty baby carriage if they worked independently of one another.” He also said, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, you need a team.”

These two Hoosiers remind us that we are here not to work for ourselves or our parties, but the interest of all Americans for the common good of the American people.

Can we perpetuate our Founders’ brilliant system to safeguard our liberties by vesting power in the American people themselves?

Our charge is simple, but it will not be easy: for our republican system to endure, we must breathe life back into the notion of the “common good” through the relentless application of common sense.

Hoosier common sense – facts trump labels

Now, I don’t profess that Hoosiers have a monopoly on the common good, but rather than allowing ideological labels to guide policymaking decisions, we should instead be guided by what we in Indiana call Hoosier common sense. It is the notion that we should be guided by the facts, and that we are open to change or new ideas, regardless of ideology, when presented with results.

The common good — I happen to know from personal experience that any young boy or girl who grows up in Indiana already has a keen sense of the thing.

I was raised in a place where neighbor cared for neighbor. This is the common good in practice.

I lived among people of character who made others’ concerns their own concerns. This is the common good.

I benefited from the selfless contributions of Americans who invested their own time, their own attention, their own resources and talents into helping their fellow Americans. This is the common good.

I came to know rank-and-file citizens who quietly took the initiative to care for the forgotten Hoosiers who needed a hand up. This is the common good.

With respect, my colleagues, I note that this outline of the common good would fully satisfy any ordinary rank-and-file Hoosier, and most ordinary Americans, but sadly, in our modern politics sometimes our most stubborn partisans resist even the most self-evident truths. Forgive me as I must demonstrate that what works in practice also works in theory.

Partnership between the living, the unborn, and the dead

Hoosier common sense includes recognizing Edmund Burke's wisdom
Hoosier common sense includes recognizing Edmund Burke’s wisdom

I will borrow from 18th century political theorist and English statesman Edmund Burke, for he brightly illuminated this notion of a common good. Burke argued that the common good could only exist where rule of law exists. Rule of law, properly understood, requires a shared allegiance by which people entrust their collective destiny to others who can speak and decide in their name. This, said Burke, is a partnership between the living, the unborn, and the dead.

The common good requires individual cooperation and compromise.

Burke noted that individuals are not simply a compendium of human wants and individual happiness is not realized by merely satisfying those wants. Our own happiness is linked to one another’s happiness.

Our purpose, then — our duty — in both our private and public capacities, is to preserve a social order which addresses the needs of generations past, present, and future. This is our duty.

In the Marine Corps, I learned something about duty and practice. Marine leaders of every rank teach through the power of their example that every marine has a duty to serve a cause greater than themselves. Marines learn to venerate sacrifice for the greater good. We are trained to refrain from self-indulgent behavior, to check our egos at the door, and to never let ambition interfere with judgment.

For marines, our comrades’ lives and our country’s future depends on embracing uncomfortable facts and then improvising, adapting, and overcoming those facts together.

Of course, in the marines, there was no red State or blue State. Every marine fights for red, white, and blue. Marines don’t have the luxury of stubbornly clinging to false doctrines or failed practices, and neither do we. Every day our men and women who wear the uniform from every branch take up arms “to provide for the common defense” — come what may.

Colleagues, if we are to keep the Republic, we too must remain open to fact-based conversations, to new information, and to new, better approaches.

Now look, I understand that this is not the United States Marine Corps. We have been issued a pen and a microphone, not rifles, but like the marines, we should be working to advance a common mission, common goals. We are the trustees of the common good.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. As a marine, I like a good fight as much as the next guy, but let’s resolve whenever possible to fight together because I know most assuredly we are fighting for the same people — and, in most cases, we are fighting for the same ends.

I am fighting for Steve, a self-employed laborer from Indianapolis. Steve’s in his fifties, but he hasn’t seen his takehome pay increase in decades. Colleagues, you are fighting for Steve, too.

I am fighting for Whitney, a high school student from Gary. Whitney doesn’t come from money, and she worries about the future. She is a hard-working student who helps her family how she can through a part-time job, but Whitney doesn’t know if she can afford a college education. Colleagues, you are fighting for Whitney, too.

I am fighting for David, an Army helicopter mechanic from Evansville who spent nearly 15 years in uniform. David is exhausted by his countless overseas deployments, and he prays that his family will find relief from the stresses and strains of an overstretched force. [[Page S2740]] Colleagues, you are fighting for David, too.

I am fighting for Carrie, a single mother of three young children from Paoli. Carrie is addicted to opioids. Her aging mother tries to make a bad situation better, but she is fearful the family will not find a way out of the crisis. Colleagues, you are fighting for Carrie, too.

I am fighting for Sherman, a trucker from Fort Wayne. Sherman is quickly approaching retirement. Sherman has put a small nest egg away for retirement, but in a few years, he and his wife will depend on Social Security and Medicare to make ends meet. Colleagues, you are fighting for Sherman, too.

I am fighting for Bob, a single father of two boys from South Bend. Bob’s been able to pull together care for himself and his children by piecing together various forms of public assistance. Bob wants a better life for himself and his boys. I hope we are all fighting for Bob — I hope we are fighting for every single American.

Let’s resolve to fight for these people. Let’s renew our vow to fight for them more than we fight with one other.

Let’s come together to grow our economy by simplifying our Tax Code and reducing the burden of Federal regulations. I ask you, colleagues, to join me in supporting the REINS Act, which I championed in the House of Representatives. Let every proposed major regulation come before this body for a vote before it can take effect, then let the American people hold us accountable when those regulations kill jobs and constrain household incomes.

Let’s come together to help Americans acquire the skills to meaningfully participate in this 21st century economy. If we cooperate, we can develop new solutions for financing higher education that liberate students from avoidable student debt, like income share agreements. ISAs keep score with outcomes, so people aren’t punished if they are unemployed or have low incomes.

Let’s come together to better serve the poor, the vulnerable, those on the margins of society. My social impact partnership bill passed unanimously out of the House last Congress.

This Congress, the Senate should come together to allow private investors to provide operating capital to those social service providers with the proven capacity to achieve measurable improvements in chronic social problems like homelessness and long-term unemployment.

If targeted improvements are achieved, government saves money and repays the project’s initial investors, plus a modest return on investment.

Let’s come together to restore confidence in our foreign policy and protect our men and women in uniform. While we rebuild our military, let’s ensure we are optimizing every instrument of national power. The American people won’t tolerate wasteful or ineffective foreign aid expenditures, but they will continue to support investments in smart, effective diplomacy.

Let’s work with this administration to reform the State Department and foreign bodies like the United Nations.

Earlier, colleagues, I spoke of a former Republican Governor of Indiana, Ed Whitcomb — but there was another Whitcomb who was Governor, James Whitcomb, a Democrat, who also went on to serve in this body before passing. He also made his mark as Governor, saving the State from insolvency, establishing institutions for the physically and mentally handicapped, and advancing the first system of free public education.

But even more impressive is his dedication to those Hoosiers who fought from Indiana in the Mexican-American War. With Indiana’s budget broke and our credit in shambles, Whitcomb took out personal loans to purchase arms and send these Hoosiers out in service of our Nation. Two Whitcombs, one Republican and one Democrat, who served our State and Nation for the common good.

In closing, colleagues, allow me to acknowledge that folks in your States probably feel a lot like those in Indiana: they are frustrated by our failure, and the Federal Government’s failure to live up to the high expectations Americans have for other pillars of our public life — our churches, our State governments, and so on. Where good old Hoosier common sense seems to inform work in those areas, in Washington, our common sense is too often crowded out by stale partisan battles and unyielding ideological biases.

Colleagues, our charge, our duty, is to advance the common good by identifying common goals and then using common sense to further advance those goals.

In spite of our principled disagreements, let us disagree without questioning each other’s motives; let us work through tough problems. Let us be principled in our beliefs but pragmatic in advancing those beliefs. Let us adapt to new realities. Let us have the courage to change our minds. Let us put results over rhetoric. Let us find practical solutions to pressing challenges. Let us, first and foremost, never forget that we are custodians of the common good.

My fellow Americans, let us rededicate ourselves to remain one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.
Source: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), “Working for the Common Good”, in “HIRE VETS ACT — Continued”, Congressional Record, May 4, 2017, p. S2739-40


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