Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Open Letter Reminding Congress & Senate of Their Responsibility

Madison may have been right. People might be too stupid to be entrusted with the ability to choose. Maybe we didn't have any good choices. I don't know. I think it's gotten to the point now where I see an article daily about how the legislative branch is proposing or voting on some bill that makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

So, in the spirit of correcting undesirable behavior (wow, I already sound like I'm an attachment parenting pro!), I have decided to write a little letter reminding our dear representatives of their responsibilities:

Dear Congress/Senate,

I am married, 30 years old, employed part-time, and pregnant with my first child. I have good health care benefits through my husband's job and a mountain of educational debt courtesy of two degrees in higher learning. I am a Christian and a patriot. It is because of who I am and what I've experienced that I am writing you about several concerns. Based on your actions in recent years, I feel you have as an institution and individuals forgotten your vow and commitment to the population you represent.

Firstly, your vow is not to get re-elected. Your entire purpose is to represent the needs and interests of your community. You represent us. Rather than spouting pretty words and taking pictures with babies or paying lip service to issues you have no intention of championing, work on getting something done that will make this country and the world a better place. That means sometimes doing things that people don't like, even if it is the right thing. When in doubt, do the right thing, not the thing that will get you another 6 years in office.

While it is true that your constituents voted you in office based on your perspective, I would urge you to recognize the fact that we work in a two party system and there are very few real choices for us. In short, remember: you may be the lesser of two evils, not the beloved darling of your district or state you imagine.

Your stances on issues may not *truly* represent the people of your state or district. Your constituents may agree with you on say what to do about taxes, but they may fundamentally disagree with you on your creationist perspective of evolution. For the purposes of representing your community, you should assume you have no opinions until you know, without a doubt, what the needs and interests of your community *really* are.

This means rather than focusing on party lines, which are limited and often do not represent the needs and views of real people, please consult with your constituents and see what will actually benefit them. If you represent a community which consists of a number of elderly, social security and health care should be your priority, not airplane travel. If you represent a younger community, you will want to support more funding for education or labors' rights, rather than voting to increase spending on military research and development.

In addition to keeping close to your constituents, let me remind you that corporations and businesses are NOT constituents. While they may fund campaigns and give all manner of gifts, make no mistake - they are not voters. They do not have voter interests at heart, and often want the opposite of what voters need.  Helping corporate interests does not guarantee job creation, in fact, many times it does the opposite (I think of tax loop-holes and laws that allow corporations to ship jobs overseas as opposed to paying their due and employing hard-working Americans).

Another thing to do is brush up on our amendments. I'm not sure if all of you realize that we are guaranteed things like freedom of speech and that church and state should be separate. The reason I don't know if you are aware of these things is the regular actions and propositions made in the name of "security" and "God."

This is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Our diversity is a strength and a weakness. We have every opinion, ethnicity, belief, creed, and orientation under the sun. This gives us incredible resources when creating ideas, but it also means we have to work incredibly hard to protect minority groups from being steam-rolled. It is easy to say, for example, this is primarily a Christian nation. That said, even in Christianity the nature of God is disputed. Though I am Christian and Baptist, I would disagree strongly with many of my Baptist brothers and sisters about how God acts in the world. I do not want their version of God dictating how I can live or what I can teach my children.

Still, even in the most diverse populations, we can agree on many things. We agree that our people should have safe places to sleep, food to eat, and care when they are sick. We want education and fulfilling work for our neighbors, family, and friends. We want green spaces and natural resources for our children and grandchildren to enjoy. We want freedom to be who we are, in a safe, healthy, and sustainable community that honors our contributions and those of others. These are things we can agree on. These are the things you, as representatives, can work to protect and ensure.

Moving forward, remember these things. Remember who is important - not you. You are not important. You are a tool - a vessel. You are *our* tool. We can wield, hone, or break you. When you act, you act for us - as an extension of us. We are important - your constituents are important. The long-term health of our country is important, and our country is us.

I am one of many, and I hope my words fall on your open and listening ears.


Alexis Donkin

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