Becoming Profiles In Courage

congress

To the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States of  America:

Dear Sir or Madame:

I recently penned a letter to President Trump offering some unsolicited advice regarding  the kind of behavior that we need from our nation’s chief executive during this unprecedented time of pandemic, social unrest and economic difficulty. It has occurred to me since I offered my views to him that in reality his duty as the president is to be an administrator, not someone enacting rules and laws. Sadly during the tenure of the last several presidents there have been far too many executive actions taken in the absence of actual lawmaking from your chambers. As a result it all too often feels as though we have one person deciding how to approach the nation’s many problems much like a monarch might do while all of you act more like presidential lackeys or critics than actual lawmakers. The phrase “do nothing Congress” seems quite apt in describing the nature of the standoff between republicans and democrats in the legislative branch of government. The result is that most of the country’s pressing problems are being mostly ignored by the men and women elected to represent us. Instead for years now we have endured a patchwork of temporary directives announced by our presidents to repair the damage done by the inactivity on your part.

It has been far too long since I have observed any efforts in Congress to work together for the good of the nation. A while back you attempted to pass a law to reform immigration and you even came close to a compromise that would have created a pathway to citizenship for immigrants and the dreamers but in the end you froze under pressure from your more vocal so called bases and ended up doing nothing. Somehow it seemed better to you to just let the problem fester and grow while President Obama decided to protect the dreamers by executive action and President Trump used his power to divert taxpayer money to building a wall. Years after the moment when a bipartisan immigration bill was on the brink of passing, we still await a permanent solution and waste precious time and money on stop gap measures.

We have watched time after time as you have battled with one another over the budget with ridiculous scenes of a Senator reading from a children’s book to filibuster rather than to work out a deal good for the people. You have special investigative panels seeking information over and over again but in the final analysis they seemingly accomplish nothing. Even in the midst of a pandemic you only seem capable of sending out one time checks to some of the citizens without regard as to who might actually need the assistance at the moment.

You have witnessed the social unrest that has bubbled over in cities and towns and the best you seem to be able to do is sponsor bills declaring Junteenth to be a national holiday. Rival legislation offered in the democrat controlled House and the republican controlled Senate is not even allowed to see the light of day. Efforts to actually do something are ignored without so much as an open discussion that might demonstrate a real intent to create meaningful and systematic change. Instead you appear to compete with one another for the most righteous indignation and pontification. None among you seem to have the courage to actually cross the aisle to insist that everyone work together to legislate the badly needed changes. As usual you talk and talk and talk but get nothing of substance done. Then you complain and worry about presidential overreach depending on which party holds the executive reins at the time. With your abdication of the responsibilities of legislation you have turned the role of the president into a monarchy.

I know that there are fringe groups that exert great control over each of you with the threat of taking away your office if you do not follow their dictates. I would like to suggest, however, that your duty is not to be herded like lambs to the slaughter but to have enough courage and character to do what is necessary for the American people. You should be less beholden to the current thinking of a party or the president and more concerned with passing laws that repair the flawed and broken institutions that are demanding your attention. If you were working in any other capacity you would all be fired for dereliction of duty. When the members of any organization cannot get past the stage of norming and storming that group is doomed to failure.

I respectfully suggest that each and everyone of you read the duties of each branch of government as outlined in the Constitution. Then I recommend that you take back the powers invested in you and begin a process of repairing the ridiculous divisions that have left you unable to address the pressing problems that now face us. There are real people who feel forgotten and ignored who need your help. They can no longer accept your antics as an excuse for inaction. The grandstanding and partisanship and executive ordering needs to stop and that will only happen if you decide to finally do your jobs.

I am weary of knowing what you are going to say and do before you even show up for legislative sessions. You have only two minds, democrat and republican. You are puppets being animated by Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump. Cut those strings and think for yourself, think about this country and its people. Take back your role and begin the work of providing us with the common sense laws that we need. Remind the president that his duty is to enforce the legislation, not to create it through sleight of hand. Let’s see who loves this country enough to become a profile in courage.

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