FRANKFORT, Ky. – As part of Team Kentucky, Andy Beshear and I made a commitment to be good teammates to our fellow Kentuckians, to end the divisive political rhetoric and verbal attacks by demonstrating the compassion, empathy and leadership we believe they deserve.
I wanted to govern with Andy because I believed he would deliver on the promise of unity, people over politics and civil discourse during his time as governor.
Six months into our first term (half of which we have spent fighting a global health pandemic) he has made good on that promise repeatedly.
Even when baited toward divisiveness, he has fulfilled his promise to stay above the fray. That takes courage, conviction and leadership.
The vast majority of Kentuckians, whether they voted for us or not, appreciate that about him, too. I know that to be true because more people than I can count have told me just that.
But over the last few weeks, Kentucky’s beautiful Capitol grounds, a place for all Kentuckians, was used as a stage for the politics of hatred that represents a loud minority of our people. Offensive, hateful images and words have found their way from the margins to the mainstream. This is unacceptable.
Let me be very clear.
To the folks who rallied and protested the decisions of elected officials with which you do not approve: While I disagree with your sentiments, I support your right to protest. To be heard.
However, there is a key component of liberty that has been lost – your rights end where another individual’s rights begin.
I cannot believe I have to utter these words, but storming the home where a 9- and 10-year-old live, wielding firearms and antagonizing their father to come outside crosses that line. Hanging an effigy crosses that line.
Disagree with government officials all you want, but leave their homes and families alone.
To the elected officials who attended these rallies and egged on the effigy-hanging crowd: It’s not enough after fanning the flames of hatred and political divisiveness to simply make a social media statement condemning the consequences of your rhetoric. Your role in driving this narrative cannot be denied.
These are uncertain times. People are scared. And now, more than ever, they need leaders who protect their families, not prey on their fears.
As Lieutenant Governor, I have been privy to conversations and deliberations that have taken place during an unprecedented era in our history. So I can assure you of this: Gov. Beshear has weighed every difficult decision as if every Kentucky family was his own. That is the epitome of being a good teammate.
I challenge you to be a good teammate and join us on Team Kentucky. Deny the partisans that seek to divide and intimidate. That is how we get through this, together.
Being a good teammate – on Team Kentucky, or otherwise – does not require conformity. But it does call for accountability. Being a good teammate means that, when you disagree, you do so civilly so that you can continue to work together in the areas where you are able to find common ground.
Being a good teammate requires the courage and conviction to choose your words wisely and to live by them. We could all use a little more of that these days.