MANCHESTER – In case you missed it, the Union Leader published an op-ed by Senator Maggie Hassan, in which she makes the case that despite polarization and misinformation, our democracy has been able to deliver major legislation tackling some of our most urgent challenges. She marks the anniversary of three landmark laws this month, highlighting the Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021, the Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, and the signing into law of the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022.
Senator Hassan wrote in the piece, “These laws happened because of Americans who spoke out, voted, and pushed their representatives to build a better future. None of this progress would be possible in a system where elections don’t matter — where democracy has been allowed to erode or been rejected.”
Read Senator Hassan’s full op-ed here or below:
Union Leader: Sen. Maggie Hassan: Our democracy can deliver
PERHAPS more than at any other point in my lifetime, our democracy is being tested. It increasingly appears that some believe that democracy isn’t worth saving — or that election results should only count when their own political team wins. While there are many factors driving this view, I think that one such factor is a sense that our political system isn’t delivering results that matter to everyday Americans.
But, in fact, over the last two years, despite polarization and misinformation, our democracy has been able to deliver major legislation tackling some of our most urgent challenges. Last week marked the anniversary of critical legislative moments for three landmark laws; the Senate passage of the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021, the Senate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, and the signing into law of the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022. These laws happened because of Americans who spoke out, voted, and pushed their representatives to build a better future. None of this progress would be possible in a system where elections don’t matter — where democracy has been allowed to erode or been rejected.
While headlines highlight our divisions, the majority of Americans share many of the same goals. In New Hampshire, Granite Staters find ways to live and work together. We do not always agree with the political views of our neighbor, doctor, or mechanic, but we know that we cannot be defined by our differences. Instead, we roll up our sleeves and find common ground to solve problems.
I work to follow their example in the U.S. Senate. Two years ago, the Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure law, finally heeding our constituents who have been speaking out about the need to modernize our infrastructure. Thanks to this law, we are now repairing crumbling roads, replacing rusty bridges and outdated water systems, and expanding high-speed internet to every corner of our state. A year later, the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act was signed into law to strengthen manufacturing, create jobs, and ensure that we build critical technologies here at home. We passed this law because Americans from across the political spectrum know that it is in our shared interest to build a stronger, self-reliant economy that can outcompete China and the world.
That same week, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act. This landmark law delivers on priorities that I have heard about from Granite Staters for years, including standing up to Big Pharma by allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and capping the cost of insulin for seniors to $35 a month. The law also, among other things, helps lower home energy bills through tax cuts, and has sparked a renewal of clean energy manufacturing in the United States.
This kind of progress is only possible when people stay engaged in the democratic process — and when elected leaders listen to the people. Our country has real differences, but on many fundamental issues a majority of Americans are in agreement: they just want their leaders to listen. And, when appropriate, to act.
I saw this firsthand in my re-election campaign. Even as we passed critical legislation into law, some commentators predicted that voters would be motivated by opposition to these laws, or simply wouldn’t care. In New Hampshire — and in races across the country — these pundits turned out to be wrong. I won my race by nearly 10 points against an opponent who opposed these laws, and who embraced extremism and election denial. The majority of Granite Staters — and Americans — made clear that they want their leaders to listen to them and work together. When candidates like my opponent question the legitimacy of our elections, and advocate extreme policies, such as banning abortion and eliminating Social Security, voters make the connection. They understand that without democracy, without leaders who are willing to be held accountable through elections, their — the voters’ — priorities will never be addressed.
It is more important than ever for all of us to remember that protecting our democracy is in our own self-interest. It is critical not only because we care about democratic principles, but because democracy is still the best way to solve problems. When we stand up to those who would overturn the results of elections, we protect our democracy, protect accountable government, and safeguard the surest path to a better future.
No single law can resolve our country’s political divisions, but taking time to recognize the legislative milestones that we recently reached reminds us that our democracy can deliver. If Americans stay engaged and vote, if elected officials continue to listen to their constituents and find ways to work together, we can not only safeguard our democracy, but we can ensure that our country’s future is better than our past.