Monday, July 4, 2011
A Letter to Congress
A Letter to Congress
July 4, 2011
Dear Senators and Representatives,
Happy Independence Day! As I’ve watched the Fourth of July celebrations from various parts of the country, listened to speeches about our hard-won freedoms and to songs, old and new, that sing to that freedom, I find myself often in tears. And I wonder what that’s about. I’m not that easily moved to tears.
For some time, I have found myself feeling less than hopeful about the way decisions are made by all of you and how those decisions continue to impact the people like me. I’m not a politician, and I won’t pretend to know the dynamics that go into the making of a politician. I have great respect for anyone who dedicates his or her life to serving, whether it is in politics or in some other area, based upon the belief that he or she will make a positive difference.
In my own frustrations over the state of our country, I have been one of those who make sarcastic jokes or laughed at your missteps and foibles at times. For that, I apologize. However, with that apology comes an expectation.
I have learned, on a much simpler plane, the value of open discourse and common purpose when it comes to making decisions of import. It saddens me to see members of Congress dig in their heels in the name of party line, rather than sit up, enter into the open discourse with an open mind, and show a willingness to make decisions that will favorably impact the people of this country they serve.
Every day, I am confronted by people, citizens of this country, who barely have enough to put food on their tables, maintain shelter, and cloth their children. I watch the costs of medical care rise and see people who have no access to treatments and medications they need. I see how much there is ‘not enough’. I look back fifty years to a time when I would never have imagined this America. I see these people losing their homes, their families—they are the new face of America. And it frightens me.
I’m one person with one vote. A right that, again, was hard-won, particularly for women. I’m one person who may not be all that well educated about the workings of government (my own fault). I’m one person to whom you have each pledged your service. I’m proud to be an American, and I wouldn’t trade my citizenship for anything.
My expectation is this: that you put aside your party politics and get back in touch with why you have chosen this course for your life. I don’t think any of you sat down one day and said, “I’m going to be a politician so I can conquer the opposing party and reign supreme.” I think you’ve chosen your path out of a true desire to keep this country great. I believe you are each motivated by good hearts and good will.
On this Independence Day, I’ve heard a lot of talk about remembering. Remembering where we came from. Remembering the struggles we have endured. Remembering the gift of freedom we hold dear. Remembering those who have fought and continue to fight for those freedoms.
Today, I’m asking you to remember and to be guided, not by taking sides, but by that desire that once drew you to serve the people and preserve the integrity of our country.