Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Imploring our Elected Officials: Stand Up for Democratic Institutions

February 5, 2017

Dear Senator Collins,

I’m scared. And I need to know you have the backs of myself and fellow Mainers.

I’m a rural Mainer; a gay woman; a state employee; a practicing Catholic; a theater professional with a degree in American Studies. I’ve spent my adult life studying, defending, and practicing American democracy. I’ve served my time both as an elected community official and as an appointed member of municipal committees, as well as a board member for numerous community nonprofit organizations.

Many of the acts of the current administration, in its first two weeks, make me fear not for particular policies, but more importantly for the institution of democracy we hold so dear and proudly.

I am writing to implore you, as Maine’s most senior congressional representative, to find the courage to lead, at this moment in history, with even more integrity than ever before: to take the continuous actions essential to supporting the pillars of our democracy.

There are a majority of voters of both parties who will stand behind you. We must believe our democracy matters to us all, matters more to each of us than partisan alliances and politics. We need your voice of moderation, courage, and integrity now more than ever.

Through you, Maine’s proud legacy of female political leadership, highlighted by Margaret Chase Smith, can stay alive – but only if you are willing to uphold Maine’s values in the face of some of the administration’s current actions.

We look to you to actively and vocally support the following:

1.     An independent Congress and Judiciary, acting in their appropriate roles of checks and balances on Executive branch power;
2.     An independent media, in existence and necessary to provide an additional check and balance on those in power;
3.     Cabinet and Supreme Court nominations of individuals who support and have expertise in government precedence and the departments they have been selected to lead;
4.     Transparency and equity: proper disclosure of and appropriate action on personal financial statements, including President Trump’s tax returns and the holdings of Betsy DeVos, so that Congress and the Judiciary can determine how to handle potentially debilitating and dangerous conflicts of interest that pose threats to our national security.
5.     Policies and programs, such as the the ADA, the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Medicaid, the NEA, and Public Broadcasting, which help to ensure that every American, regardless of wealth or position, is able to benefit from the basic privileges of being a citizen of or refugee or immigrant to the world’s wealthiest nation.
6.     A compassionate national government that seeks to extend its overwhelming wealth and natural resources to those who continue to suffer worldwide.

It is my hope you will raise your voice in support for these crucial pillars of our democracy; that you will vote and advocate for only those cabinet and Supreme Court nominations of individuals who are well qualified for their intended positions and support long-standing federal precedents; and that you will actively demand financial transparency of all existing and potential federal officials, as well as the steps necessary to eliminate glaring conflicts of interest that damage our democracy and safety.

Senator Collins, I’m scared and I hope you are, too. Belligerent leadership, rife with financial conflicts of interest, disrespect for the balance of powers and a demonstrated disregard for facts and truth endangers our nation. As an elected leader in whom we have placed our trust, you are one of an elite few in a position to stand against these actions.

You are in a difficult position, one in which we ask you to step up and be, at times, in opposition to your party and its President. Your demonstration of such integrity, however, is vital to the preservation of our democracy. Every one of us is needed to build the fair and equitable democracy in which we and the Founders, regardless of their historical limitations, believed. Without your strong voice and leadership, it might be lost: a tragedy of a scale few can even imagine.

Thank you in advance for your leadership and your service on our behalves.

most sincerely,

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