UPDATE: Gab and Steny Hoyer will be at
the Lodge on the Desert, 306
N.Alvernon Way on Tuesday, May 29, 12:30 –
1:30. I encourage all who can to show up and let them know how you feel about their votes on Iraq and their failure to stop the war in Iraq.
I read the latest issue of The Progressive yesterday and I found Howard Zinn’s article focused my thoughts about the Democratic leadership’s performance on Iraq withdrawal.
I am sick to death of my fellow citizens acting like they, too, are politicians. Politicians compromise, and deal, and take what they can get; that’s their job. Our job is to demand more and to hold our politicians’ feet to the fire over matters of principle. Those who encourage active citizens to fall in behind politicians when they do their ugly business fundamentally misunderstand the citizen’s role in our democracy. Without the pressure of conscientious citizens pressing them to uphold our deepest and highest values, politics becomes merely the art of the probable, instead of the art of the possible.
I am currently writing a letter to Representative Giffords about my disapproval of her votes on Iraq and her position on immigration. Keep in mind that I wrote this before I came across Zinn’s essay. Reading my letter, you might see why his simple insight so resonated with me.
If any of you out there would like to co-sign my letter to Giffords, just drop me a line and let me know. If you have suggestions or critiques, I’d be delighted to hear them (probably…), so please leave a comment.
Dear Representative Giffords,
I have been very impressed
and gratified by your first 6 months in office. Your voting record has
been nothing less than exemplary. The sole exceptions have been your
co-sponsorship of the so-called STRIVE Act and your recent votes on
Iraqi occupation funding. In both cases, I feel that you have not given
sufficient weight to humanitarian considerations when casting your vote.
was very disappointed by your decision to vote ‘no’ on roll call vote
330 on HR 2237, against the great majority of the Democratic caucus.
The failure of HR 2237 made Congressional capitulation to the
Administration’s demands, embodied by roll call 425 on HR 2206,
practically inevitable. Your vote in favor of HR 2206, on which you
again voted against the great majority of your caucus, was also
Despite your best intentions, I do not think that
your votes on the supplemental funding reflect the ethical primacy of
protecting the lives of our American soldiers. The brutal fact is that
every delay in forcing this President to withdraw our troops
from Iraq ensures that more of our soldiers will die in a misguided and
lost cause. In my view, your votes have traded the lives of
American soldiers for purely political considerations that you are
unable or unwilling to fully explain. Of course, taking a firm stand
against the occupation is a political risk, but if this is not a
cause important enough to risk your political future, what possibly
could be? If you won’t make the hard choices on this issue, what will
you risk it all for? If the answer is "nothing", let me suggest you are
in the wrong line of work.
I am not at all convinced that you have weighed the lives of our soldiers heavily enough in your de facto
decision to prolong this occupation. I would like to be reassured that
your first priority is force protection and extracting American troops
from Iraq as soon as possible. Your statement upon voting ‘no’ on HR
2237, which mischaracterized the bill as an immediate withdrawal from
Iraq, left me with no confidence that your support for ending the Iraqi
occupation goes beyond mere rhetoric.
The primacy of
humanitarian concern for life connects the issue of Iraq and
immigration. I do not feel that your emphasis on border security first
and foremost, as demonstrated by your co-sponsorship of STRIVE, takes
into account the humanitarian cost such a policy exacts upon innocent
economic refugees seeking entrance to the United States.
hundreds of people every year die as a direct result of prior border
enforcement enhancements that redirected immigrant traffic into our
deserts. It is immoral not to consider the increased and continuing
loss of life on our border when pursuing a comprehensive immigration
reform policy. STRIVE and other enforcement first policies fail to
address these human costs or the underlying causes of economic
immigration. I would like to see more visible concern for the lives of
immigrants and strategies for helping make sure that people do not have
to make a decision to leave their homes and come north in the first
place. Consequent of your position as a member of the U.S.-Mexico
Interparliamentary Group, I hope to see much more emphasis on this
aspect of the immigration issue from your office.
stand, your public positions on immigration are doing little to
counter, and much to reinforce, the inhuman and xenophobic rhetoric the
GOP uses to drive this issue. Indeed, I see our entire caucus trapped
by the opposition’s issue-framing, unable to chart a course that
reflects Democratic values and a genuine humanitarian concern for those
whose lives are most directly affected by this issue: the immigrants
and their families.
These two issues, Iraq and immigration, are,
as I’m sure you aware, going to shape perceptions of at least your
first term in office. My plea is that your voice on these issues not be
a careful, poll-driven compromise urged by your advisers and
strategists to ensure the security of your seat, but a true reflection
of your deepest convictions as to the best interests of this nation and
our state, and genuine concern for those whose lives are at risk. If you are sure that your current policies arise from such values and not primarily from political calculation, I am content. All I
ask is your best and bravest effort. You are engaged in the work that
will define your life: make sure that you will be proud of the results.