(Letter to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren after the Senate yesterday silenced her as she read a letter from Coretta Scott King regarding Senator Jeff Sessions and his confirmation for Attorney General.)
Dear Senator Warren:
I am so moved by your experience on the Senate floor yesterday while reading Mrs. Scott King’s words.
Frankly, each morning I wake up more disgusted than the day before at the way our government proceeds with business, bullying citizens of all ranks, shuttering programs that have benefitted so many citizens, flagrantly chastising individuals, corporations, religious and ethnic groups, the press, and anyone courageous enough to disagree and voice concern. That you were silenced on the Senate floor yesterday should not surprise me, but it does, because I choose to wake up each day not accepting this prevailing attitude, behavior and political climate as status quo.
I have taught my children that one voice matters, and that it is their responsibility to work for what is right, and to do so honorably. I am only one voice. But like you, I will not be silenced.
Senator Warren, you are an inspiration.
February 8, 2017
Thank Goodness, Thank Goodness the House approved a spending bill just before deadline. Could you imagine? How disastrous! I really did not want to have to start blogging daily again about it!
I know for certain I would not have been able to keep my tone civil. Up to this point, I have argued that somebody somewhere must provide a match light’s flare of reasoned discourse, and better yet if multiple people (dare I wish for “many” people?) strike a tone of civility. Some consider this a trifling exercise, but as the current modus operandi of unyielding non-compromise has proved unsuccessful, why not try a different tack?
Thank Goodness I don’t have to spend hours editing a post that, in a vain attempt to be “family-reader friendly,” would never be so. My anger would spill. It wouldn’t be pretty. And I doubt I would apologize for my curt and unceremonious missives.
At what point do I completely “lose it” and succumb to the very tactics I abhor? One of the most telling moments of my life came when I shouted at a mother carrying her child out of a line. This mother carried her young daughter past the hundreds and hundreds of us holding official purple tickets as we stood in a freezing tunnel in Washington, D.C. waiting to be let into the VIP section to witness the first inauguration of President Obama. The mood inside the “Purple Tunnel of Doom” changed as time passed, from joyful anticipation to a speculation that the sheer numbers of ticket holders could never proceed through the line and security in time, then to the stark realization that we were not going to get into the inauguration at all, and finally to a controlled but palpable near-panic that we would not be let out of the tunnel. I believe I was overcome by an initial sense of injustice. We had all waited so patiently, and here was this woman, leaving the line, just walking and pushing her way through the crowd, going on ahead of us. This was a wrongdoing. And so I shouted at a mother carrying her daughter. It was only after this moment passed that I realized that this mother was securing her own, and her daughter’s safety. I will forever remember my deep frustration, my anger, my fear for my own safety, and my almost immediate embarrassment, remorse and shame. When pushed to the brink, I blew it.
Talk about your life lessons. This is not a surprising finding; there is often the threat of violence in large demonstrations. Reasoned and reasonable people, passionate over a cause, fervent, find themselves engaged in escalating arguments. Right now people are convening throughout the U.S. and abroad, raising their voices every night in response to Grand Jury findings related to the death of black men by the hands of police officers. Scary things can happen when people are angry. This country has a proud history, and this history includes stories where members of the highest political office engaged in debate that went beyond charged rhetoric. There was a wild floor brawl in the House that progressed from insults to blows to general melee. I’m not talking about the House and Senate now, this happened in 1858.* And this continues to happen around the globe today.
I had figured the Congress would strike a budget deal. Everybody seemed to be fairly certain of it. But the fact that our elected leaders waited so long, with what appears to me, anyway, to be a “thumb your nose” attitude, once again not seeming to care that peoples’ lives are on the line, that our country’s image is reaching new lows, and that folks are getting sick and tired of business as usual, is disturbing. So knowing that I once yelled at a mother holding a child while she tried to escape a tense and dangerous situation, I’m not sure I can keep my goal of “showing the leaders how it’s done” in line.
I’m not condoning violence – far from it. I was scared in that Purple Tunnel of Doom. But I don’t know how to “attack” this situation. I’m getting really tired of business as usual. My efforts to model proper behavior to legislators might be a useless exercise. My pen may have to drop the “Miss Manners” approach. The question is, how do I ensure that I don’t sink to lows that rival elected legislators’ tactics?
* U.S. House of Representatives: History, Art, & Archives
December 12, 2014
Members of Congress, according to my sources, are not deemed “unessential,” and are constitutionally required to receive pay during a shutdown because of a provision that limits their ability to change their own pay.* So while Representatives and Senators cannot be forced to work for nothing, in deference to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees now on furlough, we CAN ask them to donate their salaries to non-profit organizations for the duration of the government shutdown.** Please join me in contacting your members of Congress to implore them to donate their pay to charities to help people negatively impacted by the furlough.
To email your Representative, type your Representative’s last name followed by .house.gov, or go to: http://www.house.gov/ and enter your zip code in the upper right hand corner. This will lead you to a map of your area and your Representative’s name.
To contact your Senator, go to: http://www.senate.gov/ and search for your state in the upper right hand corner, click on it, and your two Senators names will appear. Click on the appropriate name and continue to send your letter by email. Or you can type http://www.senate. (TYPE YOUR SENATOR’S LAST NAME HERE).gov
To write a letter to the President of the United States, go to: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
Here is the USA.GOV Web site information: What’s Affected by a Government Shutdown?
Below, find an overview of some of the government services and operations that will be impacted until Congress passes a budget to fund them again. For detailed information about specific activities at Federal agencies, please see federal government contingency plans.
- Vital services that ensure seniors and young children have access to healthy food and meals may not have sufficient Federal funds to serve all beneficiaries in an extended lapse.
- Call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans understand their benefits will close to the public.
- Veterans’ compensation, pension, education, and other benefits could be cut off in the case of an extended shutdown.
- Every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, will be immediately closed.
- New applications for small business loans and loan guarantees will be immediately halted.
- Research into life-threatening diseases and other areas will stop, and new patients won’t be accepted into clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
- Work to protect consumers, ranging from child product safety to financial security to the safety of hazardous waste facilities, will cease. The EPA will halt non-essential inspections of chemical facilities and drinking water systems.
- Permits and reviews for planned energy and transportations projects will stop, preventing companies from working on these projects. Loans to rural communities will be halted.
- Hundreds of thousands of Federal employees including many charged with protecting us from terrorist threats, defending our borders, inspecting our food, and keeping our skies safe will work without pay until the shutdown ends.
- Hundreds of thousands of additional federal workers will be immediately and indefinitely furloughed without pay.
Services That Will Continue During the Government Shutdown
- Social Security beneficiaries will continue receiving checks.
- The U.S. Postal Service will keep delivering mail.
- Active military will continue serving.
- Air traffic controllers, prison guards, and border patrol agents will remain on the job.
- NASA Mission Control will continue supporting astronauts serving on the Space Station.
October 2, 2013