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Byrne pens final column from office

This is my last weekly report as your Congressman.

Serving you in Washington these last seven years has been a great honor and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity you have given me.  I never once walked out on the floor of the House of Representatives when I wasn’t in awe that I was there to speak and vote for you.

I leave Congress with hope and optimism about our country and our part of the country.

American elites, who control most of our news and entertainment outlets, would have you believe that America is a weakening, evil  nation.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I’d not travelled abroad much before coming to Congress but, particularly given my work on the Armed Services Committee, I’ve travelled a lot more these last seven years.  No matter where I went American power was evident and I heard from allies and adversaries a clear expectation that we are the world’s leader in nearly every way that matters.

What this has meant for the world is remarkable.  The rules based system we created after World War II, and the example of our democracy and economy,  changed things on a truly global scale.  Global per capita gross domestic product has more than tripled during the last 75 years and the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has fallen from 66% to less than 10%.  Before World War II there were more autocracies than democracies.  Today, 96 nations are true democracies, and less than 80 are autocracies.

What we have achieved at home is equally impressive.  We have more rights and freedoms equally enjoyed than any nation in the history of the world.  No one can match our standard of living, our health care system, or our ability to face and address the issues which still challenge us.

I know this year has been hard on all of us.  We’ve experienced a pandemic, an abruptly sharp recession, riots, and down here two hurricanes.  Some of us have lost loved ones or had the disease ourselves.   But, our resilience as a nation and as a region has allowed us to enter 2021 looking forward to widespread distribution of the vaccine and return to a new normal.

America is a strong nation because of our morals and principles: freedom, equal opportunity, hard work, fair play, patriotism and faith in God.   If we ever lose those, we will lose our strength, like Sampson without his hair.

I said earlier that I am hopeful and optimistic.  That’s because these last seven years I’ve had the rare opportunity to see our nation as a whole and not just the part where I live.  I’ve met and worked with genuinely good and smart people.  And I have an appreciation for the important national institutions which have developed over the decades to provide the structures within which the American people work their will.

My ancestor, Gerald Byrne, came over from Ireland to what was then the colony of West Florida.  He escaped poverty and a brutally repressive British occupation of his home country.  Here he had freedom to be his own man, opportunity to make his own way, and the courage to take advantage of it all.  Over 200 years later one of his descendants would end up in the House of Representatives.  That’s amazing, but that’s America.

I want our country to continue to provide these opportunities to all of our people.  I want us to maintain our morals and principles.  And I want us all to be hopeful and optimistic because we have every reason to be so.

Thank you for allowing me to represent you.   I will always cherish the fact you trusted me to speak and act for you.  I hope I lived up to your expectations.

God bless you and God bless the United States of America.