Thursday, June 23, 2011

Calling Congressman Flores

Congressman Bill Flores, I want to talk to you.

I confess that I was not happy when you were elected to represent me in Congress last fall. I already have two Senators whom I never bother to contact about anything, since all my communications with either of them are read by staff members and answered with form letters explaining why they reject my point of view on issue X. I did, however, enjoy a constructive relationship with your predecessor, Congressman Chet Edwards.

Chet enjoyed the dubious distinction of representing what used to be described as the most conservative congressional district in the country to be held by a Democrat. He often cast votes I didn't agree with. However, he was a genuinely independent thinker who took the challenge of representing all of his constituents in Congress seriously. I got to know him a bit during last fall's campaign, hosting him at my house to speak to a group of progressive Democrats. He convinced most of us who were there that he is a sincere person of integrity who deserved our support.

Of course, you proceeded to beat him in the November election. This was probably foreordained. I don't think it was possible for anybody with a D after his or her name to win anything in the toxic atmosphere that prevailed here last fall. It is very discouraging, though, to know that I now have two senators, a congressman, a state senator, a state representative and a governor all of whom I disagree with on every single issue. There is something in the principle of democratic government that at least tries to pretend that every citizen has a voice.

In fact, I did find a very effective way to exercise that voice this spring. I joined a large and well organized group of professional colleagues and students in successfully opposing a bill that everybody had assumed would pass this year: the one allowing concealed weapons permit holders to bring their guns into buildings on college and university campuses in Texas.

So I am not exactly feeling ignored - or ignorable - at the moment. That fact makes your failure to respond to my persistent overtures since your election to Congress all the more discouraging. I wrote to you shortly after the November election to let you know that I spoke for the large number of liberal Democrats in your district for whom even Chet Edwards was far too conservative, although we had learned to live with him and respect him. I told you that I sincerely hoped that you, like Chet, would take seriously the mission of representing all of your constituents, not just those who agree with you politically. I told you that if I did not get a response to my letter, I would know the answer. I wrote again a few weeks later, just to make it clear that I was not eager to close off communications with you.

I did eventually hear from your field representative Will Flores, who assured me that you were indeed interested in hearing from all your constituents and asking me which issues I considered most important. I immediately wrote back to say that, as an educator, I was deeply concerned about possible cuts to education funding, and that I would be glad to organize a group of educators to speak to you about this subject. I never heard back.

Then last night I found a message from you in my voice mail. It seems to have resulted from what is generally known as a "robo-call." You were calling, you said, to see if I agreed with your efforts to cut government spending. Taking the question in good faith, I called your congressional office right back, leaving a long message explaining why I do not support those efforts. I also emailed Mr. Will Flores and reminded him that he had not responded to my message of last November. I am posting this publicly since I now want my efforts to contact you to become a matter of record. If I continue to be ignored by you and your staff, I will know - and so will the dozens of people who read this blog regularly (I can't claim a mass readership, but it is what it is) - that you are really not interested in hearing my voice, or those of the thousands of other liberal Democrats whom you theoretically represent in Congress.

We vote.

Robin Wallace
700 Candlelight Dr.
Woodway, TX 76712

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