Rep. Don Beyer, who represents Virginia’s 8th Congressional district, which includes the city of Alexandria, stopped by on Sept. 15 at Islamic Relief USA‘s headquarters to give a morale boost.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here,” he said.
Like many times when a political figure comes into contact with his constituents, Beyer struck a positive tone. He lauded the organization for the great humanitarian work it does and for standing on its principles.
And if there was any doubt Islamic Relief USA is located in an undesirable locale, he quickly dispelled those perceptions. Beyer said his congressional district is among the most educated and wealthy in the country. As the owner of several dealerships, including the Alexandria Landover dealership on Duke Street, Beyer said he has come to know many Muslims over the years.
“We have many Muslims in positions of leadership. They make good money,” he said.
Political figures are known to try just about anything to establish a connection with the groups they address. Sometimes, they could come across as grasping at straws and try to make connections that are tangential at best. But with Beyer, you got the impression he has a genuine relationship with the Muslim community. Heck, he employs some of them. He didn’t have to, but he sees the value in their work ethic and other positive qualities.
Beyer added that a Congressperson’s office should reflect the values of the community that it represents.
Acknowledging that the current political climate has especially been difficult for Muslims, Beyer nonetheless encouraged IRUSA staffers to be patient and relentless.
Beyer said he also is hopeful that more sympathetic or favorable polices and legislation can be enacted under President Donald Trump’s administration.
He pointed out the recent discussions between Trump and with Democratic Party leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif-12), regarding DACA, as a hopeful sign.
Beyer said he is convinced Trump is more interested in making deals than adhering to a particular philosophy, since he doesn’t come across as an ideologue.
Still, he said the American public cannot afford to become complacent or dismissive.
“The answer is to fight back,” he said. “We have to keep pushing back.”
While it’s true that Beyer may not have said or revealed anything that was groundbreaking or outside the normal pep-talk playbook politicians consult to energize voters, he didn’t come across as an empty suit. There was a genunineness there, and he took the time to chat with several employees.
The hope is enough suggestions and advice was provided that could be actionable and result in constructive public policies.
As they say, all you can do is try. With Rep. Beyer, this writer was convinced he was and is trying.