I wrote this essay just before the 110th Congress convened
An Essay-Stand and Serve
This is an open letter to the members of the 110th Congress, convening, January 2007.
Congratulations! You’ve just been elected or reelected as a representative to the 110th Congress. I know if it were me, I’d be giddy as a school girl with anticipation of my new role.
You fought a great battle to defeat your opponent and no doubt you pulled out all the stops…even those pesky negative ads…shame on you! I guess it’s true , all’s fair in love and politics.
We’re not going to mention the millions of dollars you spent convincing us that the guy you were running against was a snake in the grass, while at the same time you were seen saluting Old Glory as it waved in the background.
As you prepare to take your seat in Congress I want to remind you of a few things.
We have asked our brave young men and women to go fight in an unholy war, and we, like our enemies, claim that we are doing this in the name of God.
During the mid term election those of us who oppose this war were accused of ‘cutting and running’ and some said that we (your fellow Americans) were disloyal to the flag and our country. I’d like to tell you right here and now that the political rhetoric you spewed on your fellow citizens is now passé and serves no purpose. What I would like you to do is promise that you will do what we’ve asked of our servicemen and women, and with them will you ‘Stand and Serve.’
I am sure that there are a few among you that have been there and when duty called…you served.
My concern runs in a different vein, yet it cuts as deep.
As you raise your hand and promise to defend the constitution of these United States, please keep in mind that there are several imperatives you must remember.
First there is the inclusive imperative.
For several years now this country has been split up between Red and Blue States, Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative and I believe that this has had much more to do with dividing rather than uniting our Republic. Can anyone tell me what ever happened to the United States?
Truth be told, I think the line between the major political party’s has become blurred, it’s outright impossible to tell who are the Republicans, and who are the Democrats, except, of course, in your TV commercials.
I wonder if this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he formed the Democrat-Republican Party.
Will you promise to Stand and Serve the interests of your district with the sole intent of finding solutions for the problems that exist within your district and the people you represent?
Next, there is the imperative of service to the Middle Class.
At the end of each day I would like you to ask yourself the following questions.
Did I bring economic development to my district?
How many people in my district will have living wage employment to take care of their families?
Was I diligent today in fighting for affordable healthcare for all of middle-class America?
Have I committed myself to fighting for Middle Class America to have the same kind of health care provided for my family as I serve in Congress?
Have I done all I can to help young people find a way to go to college, get a better education and was I responsible for no one being left behind in the pursuit for improved and higher education?
Did I fight with all my being to end the conflict in the Middle East? Who else could I influence to stand with me in support of peace?
Was I relentless in reducing the tax burden on the Middle Class?
Did I do all I could do to be a better representative?
At the end of the day the only question to be asked of you is, did you Stand and Serve…well, did you?
Finally, there is the Moral Imperative:
Some of my close friends consider me a skeptic and probably with good cause. I don’t believe that each of you that serve in Congress will do so with the unswerving commitment that we have asked of those who serve in the military or even the focua of our founding fathers that helped establish this Republic.
That sounds harsh and if I’ve bruised your sensitive side, I’m sorry, but let’s look at the track record some of you have left in your wake. There seems to be this prevailing wind that blows no good, and it’s called lobbyists and special interests.
During the course of your day to day activities have you been approached, coerced, tempted or enticed to support legislation by one of those special interest groups? Perhaps one of the many pharmaceutical groups, energy groups, education or foreign interests has offered to pay for a trip, pad your campaign coffers or some other possibility.
If that’s the case the only thing you have to ask yourself is if I support whatever their plan may be, who will benefit from this action besides the lobbyist and me? If there is no benefit for the people you serve then don’t take the money and say a resounding ‘no thanks.’
Among your colleagues there will be some that will try to rope you into schemes and plans that serve no good. And more importantly, some among you will not be of high moral character. Some will even play in murky areas where they will find themselves trapped in their own schemes and plans with no nice way out.
Of course I’m thinking of the likes of Mark Foley and other despicable characters. The one thing you must remember is that you don’t have to be Republican or Democrat to do stupid things and if you think the shame you cause is on yourself or your family, think of us, the voters, we’re the one that voted for you and with that said I have one final word of warning.
When tempted to try to sneak something past us poor fools that elected you, there aren’t enough lobbyists in the world to save your hide. Think of us back home as your own personal lobbyists, we’re the ones that sent you to the Nations Capitol to serve our needs. We, the electorate can vote you out of office as easily as we voted you in. Which means in closing that we’ve entrusted you with our lives and the only thing we expect you to do is Stand and Serve, is that too much to ask?