Opinion: In wake of Orlando terror, come together to act

By: Brian Fitzpatrick | Tuesday, July 5, 2016 | The Intelligencer

The terror attack on an Orlando nightclub served as a tragic reminder that the threats against our nation, its people and its ideals are very real. Even as our hearts go out to the victims, their families and all those impacted by this cowardly act, we must turn to address the terrorist threats we face.

In the days following the attack, we’ve seen the best — and worst — of America. Even as lines formed to donate blood and funds for victims poured in, the dialogue that’s risen in the wake of this evil has too often been partisan and, at times, poisonous. When we should be coming together as Americans, we’ve once again divided into “sides,” each with its own cause and solution. For this, there is no excuse.

As talking heads push their chosen agenda and others seek to raise funds, those radicalized by hate continue to plot and scheme in our own country, even without coordination from groups abroad that will nonetheless gleefully take credit for their evil.

I’m running for Congress because I want to keep our country and our people safe, and because I know we need to work together to do that.

For over a decade and a half, I served as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, where I supported counterterrorism efforts and worked to keep our communities safe. When it came to this mission, we were focused on solutions, not scoring ideological points or declaring a singular fix to a complicated issue.

The fact is there are many steps we can take to create and expand security for all. But these decisions must be made together and without the hyperpartisanship and stunts we’ve seen.

Our leaders must be willing to name our enemy: radical Islamic terrorism. Only then can we clearly define who our fight is against and execute strategies to defeat this hateful and violent threat. Our national security and foreign policies must be based in reality and facts, not political correctness, allowing our military and intelligence agencies, not politicians, to implement them. In doing so, we can restore American leadership across the globe in a manner that proactively protects our people without putting our resources at risk.

The battle against terror is one with no front line, meaning our police and law enforcement officers are often the first to identify or respond to danger. As such, we must ensure federal, state and local law enforcement has access to every tool necessary to keep us and our communities safe.

While serving as a special assistant United States attorney, I prosecuted criminals who committed violent gun crimes. I know Congress must act on real solutions to address gun violence, most importantly by reforming our broken mental health system. Passing the bipartisan Families in Mental Health Crisis Act introduced by Pennsylvania’s own Rep. Tim Murphy, the only clinical psychologist in Congress, would be a welcome start.

As a member of the national security community, my priority was to clearly define the threats our nation faces, identify the best policies to protect us and help implement them in coordinated strategy. As your congressman, this mission would continue because these are the priorities that should unite us.

Our reaction to tragedy has always been resilience. That’s the reason I signed up to serve my country after Sept. 11. But this resilience is a conscious decision and not an easy one when compared with devolving into fear and politicking.

Every American deserves a government committed to uniting and protecting its people in the face of danger. I don’t believe that’s too much to ask. But that kind of action cannot and will not come from career partisan politicians stuck in the status quo. At this time in our history, my background of proven, independent leadership is exactly what Bucks and Montgomery County families need in a representative. Together, we can make that happen.

 **This piece originally ran in The Intelligencer on Tues., July 5, 2016. See original HERE