In his first-ever speech on the Senate floor, freshman Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) pushed his colleagues to do their jobs, avoid cheap shots, and be honest at the risk of being unpopular.
“The people despise us all,” Sasse said on Tuesday. “And why is this? Because we’re not doing the job we were sent here to do. The Senate isn’t tackling the great national problems that worry those we work for.”
Although elected a year ago, Sasse held back from speaking to his colleagues on the Senate floor so he could learn and better understand the legislative body, he said. He encouraged his colleagues to avoid getting caught up in the game of politics in front of the cameras and instead facilitate an ongoing discussion of what the proper role of government. Because senators serve six-year terms, the aggressive political fights and continual campaigning defeats the entire purpose of the Senate, which is to be deliberate and forward-thinking, he said.
“Why does the Senate’s character matter?” Sasse asked his colleagues. “Precisely because it is meant to insulate us from short-termism. This is the point of the Senate. This place is built to insulate us from opinion fads and the short-term bickering of 24-hour-news-cycles. The Senate was built to focus on the big stuff. The Senate is to be the antidote to sound-bites.”
“This is not a call for less fighting – but for more meaningful fighting,” Sasse said. “This is a call to be for things that are big enough that you might risk your reelection.”