Can a weakened Walden become part of the solution?

Published as a Letter to the Editor in Hood River News, December 19, 2018

I extend my congratulations to congressman Greg Walden (R-OR). He faced a determined, strategic and compelling opponent, yet won re-election. I did not vote for Mr. Walden, and his victory does not erase my deep concerns about him, his party, and the president he serves. But he was democratically and fairly elected.

This said, coming January the power and influence of Mr. Walden will be diminished: Republicans will be in the minority, and Mr. Walden will lose the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

I encourage Mr. Walden to take reduced power as an opportunity to listen to a broader cross-section of his constituents, and charter a more inclusive and productive path forward around issues essential to our District.

I offer three suggestions:

• Recognize climate change as a man-made serious global threat with major local impacts, and become a leader in creating political consensus towards effective climate mitigation and adaptation solutions. Only thus would Mr. Walden be mitigating our forest fires, as well as making our economy more resilient across ranching, farming, tourism and renewable energies.

• Recognize that access to health care is a basic human right, and work to create a fiscally responsible system that delivers such care to all. Only thus would Mr. Walden be seriously contributing to solve the opioid and veterans health crises, while ensuring the health and well-being of our communities.

• Recognize that migrant work is at the core of our agricultural enterprise, and work towards holistic solutions to the complex problem of immigration. Those solutions require immigration reform, not just enforcement. Reform should be humane and empathetic, as well as strategic and realistic. It must address sources of mass migration, and cure root causes of discrimination towards migrants. And it should incentivize migratory currents when they strengthen the US or are our moral imperative.

Each of these issues will determine the future of our District. Voices of reason are needed in Congress to break the partisan silos that impede effective solutions. Mr. Walden must choose whether to become part of the solution, or remain part of the problem.

— Antonio Baptista


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