January 3, 2017

Letter to My Republican Senator

(Sent via USPS)

January 3, 2017
Senator Pat Toomey
RSOB—Russell Senate Office Building,
2 Constitution Avenue, NE
Room 248
Washington DC 20510­3806
Dear Senator Toomey:
I am one of your constituents, though probably not one of your more enthusiastic fans. I am writing as a new Congress is being seated, a Congress that, along with a totally unqualified new President, has me terrified for the future of the Republic.
I am writing to urge you to put your country ahead of party, though I would suggest that doing so will, in the long run, benefit the Republican Party.
Keep in mind that Donald Trump lost the popular vote by 2.8 million votes; he is not the choice of the American people. Do not assume that his agenda (or that of the Republican Party to the degree that that is different) is popular. It is likely that a 2017 no-holds-barred bill-passing frenzy will do nothing so much as guarantee a strong Democratic Party backlash and resurgence in 2018.
In particular, let me list some of my concerns and suggestions:
·        Russia is not our friend. Tread carefully here.
·        Donald Trump’s choice of advisors and cabinet members has confirmed the worst fears of many Americans. Too many of the people he has identified oppose government on principle and have vested interests in policies that are opposed to the interests of the American people. Every vote you cast for one of these self-serving nominees will make you complicit in an administration concerned only with advancing the interests of the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else.
·        Because Republicans refused to coöperate with Democrats, the Affordable Care Act has more faults than necessary. It is better than nothing, however, if not as good as a single-payer approach would have been. It would be wise to fix some of the more obvious faults; it would be foolish to scrap the ACA.
·        We don’t need a trade war. NAFTA benefitted all the parties, as probably would the TPP. No trade agreement is perfect; every trade pact will create winners and losers. Seeking the greatest good for the country as a whole, rather than concentrating on those directly and negatively affected, should always be your approach.
·        Global warming is real. Deal with it.
·        We cannot claim to be a free country if women are not given control over their bodies. Abortion restrictions should be lifted and decisions about women’s health should be left in the hands of doctors and their patients. Planned Parenthood should be supported for its significant contribution to women’s health.
·        Immigrants have never been popular in the U.S., but they have always made significant contributions to American society. Don’t dismiss them or their needs.
·        Tax reform is surely needed, at least in the abstract. Unfortunately, Donald Trump’s interest in tax “reform” is all about benefitting the rich. Don’t be party to that.
Perhaps on a more positive note, I offer this advice:
·        We should spend more money on infrastructure, especially on roads, bridges, passenger rail, and water and sewer systems. Where the money for this comes from is important, however. Interest rates are still historically low. The government can afford to borrow money for infrastructure development now, when doing so is cheap.
·        Let’s be smart about military spending. There is no evidence that more weapons, especially nuclear weapons, are needed. If the F-35 cannot achieve its design goals anytime soon, the program should be scrapped. Use the money for high-speed rail.
·        The VA needs to be improved, but privatization is not the answer. Likewise, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are vital to Americans. Mess with them at your supreme peril.
·        Americans want reasonable restrictions on firearms. Screw the NRA. If Republicans work for the NRA, they are working for the wrong people. The carnage caused by guns in this country must stop.
·        Begin the process of amending the Constitution to allow for direct election of President and Vice President. Doing so will be popular, even if the effort ultimately fails.
·        Work to nullify the effects of the Citizens United decision. An amendment to the Constitution may be necessary. It would be popular.
·        Support banking and consumer protection regulation. We don’t need another financial meltdown, and you don’t want to be responsible for one.
I apologize for such a long letter. It will not be the last you receive from me. Do not bother to reply with a letter telling me why the whole Republican program is beneficial; just keep my advice in mind. I will take any letter that does not respond to what I have actually written to indicate that you have no interest in the views of the people of Pennsylvania.
Very truly yours,
etc., etc.

Note. My letter to my Democratic senator is here.

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