I sent this letter to U.S. Senator Ron Johnson earlier this week regarding the appointment of a Supreme Court justice to replace the deceased Antonin Scalia. I also posted the text on Facebook, which started up a significant discussion on the state of politics in our country. In that discussion, I wrote two additional posts tonight in response to comments from others. I won’t post the passages written by others, but here is the text of my letter, along with my two posts.
Senator Johnson, I want you to know that I’m fulling expecting you and your fellow senators to hold a hearing and move forward with the appointment of a Supreme Court justice to replace Antonin Scalia. I read in a news story recently that you asked, “Why not let the American people decide the direction of the Supreme Court?” I assume you mean that we should elect a new president and then allow him or her to make the appointment. Well, as you know, we did indeed elect a new president, he’s in office now, and he needs to be able to do his job.
I’m sure you’re aware of article two of our constitution which states that the president has the responsibility to appoint supreme court justices “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate”. That of course means that you and your colleagues have a key role and responsibility as well.
I realize that many Senators are talking about precedent, even pointing to opinions from former senators like Vice President Biden. That may seem reasonable, but it’s certainly not constitutional. Senator Rubio recently stated that he expects our next Supreme Court Justice to be a person who will interpret the constitution based on its original meaning. I couldn’t agree more. And that goes for you and your colleagues and all of us who have taken an oath of office.
I’m an Alderman on the city council of De Pere, Wisconsin. And while my elected office may be on a much smaller scale than yours, my oath of office is no less important; I too swore to “support the constitution of the United States”. When you took your oath, you did not swear to follow the wishes of your fellow Republicans. And as a fellow Republican, I must admit that I’m very embarrassed by those of you to just don’t seem to understand this.
When I write to my elected officials, I usually share my opinion with the intent to affect a vote in a certain direction. However today, this is much more serious. I’m not simply asking. I’m making it clear that I expect you and your colleagues to live up to your oath of office and defend our constitution. Support your president in this process by providing your “advice and consent”.
Thanks for your time.
My first response:
Well, I’ll simplify this. If one party plays fair and legal (like I’m asking my party to) and the other doesn’t, then it’s likely that the other party will win. Fine. Then what? In the case of the Supreme Court, we’re talking about a lifetime appointment. So believe me, I understand the seriousness. This is indeed important. Extremely important.
But when are we going to stop the bullshit? When are we going to stop all the game playing? This is just crap and I’m so tired of it.
I mean, go back to last year when someone caught a photo of President Obama giving an improper salute to a Marine at the steps of Marine One. Republicans railed him for it. You realize, don’t you, that there are people who are watching President Obama like a hawk, just for opportunities to nail him on something. It’s stupid. Then I saw a Democrat here on Facebook post a picture of President Bush also giving an improper salute, saying, “knock if off, your guy did it too.” We’re like a bunch of damn 10-year-olds.
When a Democrat is president, Republicans give him shit for going golfing while there are Americans at war. When a Republican is in office, Democrats give him shit.
What the hell kind of country are we running? And where are our expectations of our elected officials? What standard are we holding them to? Come on people.
WE ELECT OUR REPRESENTATIVES. AND WE ARE EXPECTING THEM TO PLAY THESE GAMES. THIS IS OUR FAULT.
If you’re one of those with such expectations, then you’re part of the problem. If you’re one of those who criticizes politicians for stupid things, but you only criticize politicians of the opposing party, then you’re part of the problem. If you’re one of those who thinks that only one party doesn’t play fair, then you’re part of the problem.
As I said in my letter, I took the same oath as Sen. Johnson, although my oath also included upholding the constitution of the state of Wisconsin. I’m glad to be a politician who doesn’t participate in these games. Things don’t always go my way (as evidenced at last night’s city council meeting), but I respect my fellow aldermen, and I respect the citizens who elected them.
Moving forward, I will continue to send letters like mine to my elected representatives. And yes, I’ll probably criticize Republicans more than Democrats. This is how we fix this. Think about it, we’re not going to fix this by throwing stones across the aisle. We’ll fix it when Democrats hold their elected officials responsible and Republicans do the same for ours.
My second response:
Some of you know that I run the tech support department at SNC. We have a big wall with write-on paint, like a white board. And, in addition to my full-time staff, I have 20 students who work for us part time. One of our students writes random questions on the wall, just to drum up some fun and get fellow students to interact. She asks things like, “who is your favorite movie character”. I really like it, because everyone writes their favorite on the wall and it’s kind of fun.
A couple of weeks ago, she erased the question and all the answers, and posted a new question, like she’s done numerous times before. But this time, this was her question:
That’s the web site where you answer questions, and it tells you what presidential candidate you most align with. I immediately thought, uh oh. We have serious work to do in our department, and I try to foster a fun and respectful work environment. And I could see that this isn’t going to end well. I just knew it would backfire.
I was about to erase the question when a student wrote their answer (as they always do). Then another. Then another. Then I wrote mine. Pretty soon, we had about 15 answers on there, and over the course of the week we found ourselves talking about our differences. RESPECTFULLY. Not only did this not backfire, but it was awesome. I feel a serious responsibility to my student employees to not only train them well in their technical skills, but to also help form them into responsible adults. And with the Wisconsin primary coming up and these young adults voting for the first time, I was so proud of how this turned out. And I was proud of my full-time staff because of how they participated and modeled respectful conversations.
But how horrible of me to even think for a moment that this wouldn’t go well. How bad is the state of politics today that I have to immediately think that talking about our politics is going to be a bad thing? Even worse, I feel bad that I had such low expectations of these young adults whom I respect so much, but who had nothing to do with creating our current political situation. We have a lot of work to do in our country.
I apologize if my words seem out of context, because you don’t know what others wrote. I hope you’ll still get my meaning nonetheless.