As I prepare to leave office, I am thankful for the opportunity to have served you, the chance to make our community stronger, and the realization of a lifelong dream.
Growing up as a sharecropper’s son in Dale County, I felt the call to public service at a young age and dreamed of working on behalf of my home state and the people I loved.
The reality proved to be much more fulfilling and challenging than my boyhood self could ever know.
Even though I had hoped to serve you further in my role as your representative, my time in Congress was not wasted and my service to you is not complete.
It is easy to sit back and simply point out what is ugly and broken in our government.
However, it is much harder, but more honorable, to get down to the hard work of finding solutions and risking failure in the pursuit of progress.
As you may know, I was consistently rated as the most independent member of Congress for my steadfast commitment to voting with my constituents rather than either political party.
I do not regret reaching across the aisle and voting my conscience.
I do not believe that going further to the extremes and being more rigid in our ideologies will strengthen America during these difficult times.
I do, however, believe that there is an important place in American government for conservative centrists like myself and others.
I call on Members of the 112th Congress to move beyond the easy partisan rhetoric and work together for the good of the country.
Our nation faces many serious challenges, such as extremely high unemployment, massive deficits, and the on-going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These problems will not wait for members of Congress to finish calling each other names and making speeches simply for political gain.
We must act now to preserve our nation and pass on to our children the security and stability our parents and grandparents created for us.
Our leaders must understand- and we must let them know- that gridlock and partisan fighting are unacceptable and that those who prefer scoring political points to solving problems are harming the very people they swore an oath to protect.
Despite these frustrations and concerns, I am proud of all that my office accomplished over the last two years.
I can sleep soundly at night knowing that my constituents could always count on me for accessibility and responsiveness.
One of the most rewarding aspects of my job was knowing my office was helping to right wrongs and empower my constituents.
The federal government isn’t the answer to our problems, but an important part of a representative’s job is to ensure his or her district receives its fair share of federal resources.
Helping veterans get the benefits they’ve earned or a seeing a town rewarded with the infrastructure project it needs to prosper is incredibly fulfilling and was the work on which my staff focused without tiring.
From the beginning of my term, I made it a priority to visit every city and town in the Second District.
In the process of reaching that goal, I met thousands of people and learned a great deal about the issues facing all corners of southeast Alabama.
The talks I had with you in town squares and hardware stores were always in my mind as I voted on the House floor.
As I’ve said before, the voting card had my name on it, but it belonged to you.
Our leaders cannot come to Washington and forget where they came from; they must keep in close and constant contact with their districts.
Members of Congress should not be working for the advancement of a political party or special interest group, but rather for the good of the people they represent.
Focusing too heavily on a party’s interest inevitably leads to lack of attention to the critical issues our country faces.
Indeed, while our job description may be casting votes, the real work of a representative is defending and improving the lives of all of our citizens.
As the 111th Congress comes to a close, I again want to thank you for the trust you placed in me over the last two years.
It has been the honor of my life to serve you.
As my wife, Lynn, and I pray about our future, please know I will continue to seek ways to help Alabama move forward to a stronger and brighter tomorrow.
Thank you for your continued support and prayers.