See Disclaimer. Responses are to my letters on HR1 and HRC24.
After the 2018 elections, Congressman Walden (R-OR2) has made repeated calls for bipartisanship, and has more frequently and directly engaged his constituents. Both are changes in posture, relative to when his party controlled the House. Should they be genuine, these changes would offer important opportunities, amidst the profound divisions that consume us as a country.
I have thus followed with interest Mr. Walden’s recent voting record, and have on occasion written letters expressing my thoughts on his votes and their implications. Of the three letters I wrote in this context, one addressed his “nay” vote on House Resolution 1 (HR1, ‘For the People Act of 2019’), and two his “yea” votes on HR183 (condemning intolerance and bigotry) and HCR24 (for the release of the Mueller Report).
I have received, and share below, e-mail responses to two letters, on HR1:
Thank you for taking the time to write me with your thoughts regarding H.R. 1, as well as support for election reform.
Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy and I support any effort to protect this sacred right of American citizens. Unfortunately, H.R. 1 undermines our election system, making it more vulnerable and subject to political interference.
I voted against this measure because it contains concerning provisions that infringe upon our First Amendment rights as Americans to speak and associate freely. Further, by subsidizing federal campaigns using the hard-earned money of American taxpayers, this bill will be used to assist campaign activities for candidates that the taxpayer may not support.
While we may not see eye-to-eye on this specific legislation, know that I will continue to support bipartisan efforts that encourage American citizens to exercise their right to vote and provide them with a secure and free election system—especially one free from any foreign influence.
Thank you again for writing me. It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Member of Congress
and on HCR24:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the Mueller report which investigated Russia’s influence in the 2016 elections. I agree with you that the report should be released to the public, and recently voted with 419 of my colleagues in support of publicly releasing the document.
I supported Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel and consistently supported ensuring his two-year investigation was free from any political influence. Special Counsel Mueller deserves the gratitude of all Americans for his public service and for conducting this important investigation with integrity and the professionalism. His exhaustive work makes clear that President Trump and his campaign did not collude with the Russians. Period. The special counsel and his team came to this conclusion after a rigorous investigation that followed all leads to get to the facts. The Justice Department has indicated the report will be released to the public by mid-May. I look forward to its release so that our country may move forward.
Thank you again for expressing your concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.
Member of Congress
Here are some general thoughts, motivated by Mr. Walden’s responses:
- I appreciate that Mr. Walden’s office is doing a much better job that before November 2018 in responding to constituents. Even beyond the two timely responses, it is not too late to expect a response to the third letter.
- Each response addresses the topic of my original letter, which is also an improvement.
- Both responses, to different degrees, appear formulaic. An example of a disappointing consequence is that the response on HCR24 repeats, apparently without so realizing, an idea that I explicitly asked Mr. Walden to retract—and it also leaves unanswered the key request for an objective, informed analysis of the Mueller report.
- Both responses suggest that Mr. Walden’s thinking remains fundamentally different than mine, even when (as in HR183 and HCR24) I like how he votes. More importantly, I see no significant breakthroughs towards bipartisanship.
- Although the system is far from perfect, it is a testament to the inherent strength of our Democracy that I can openly disagree with a US representative with the full expectation of receiving a response.
Democracy is not a given—as too many people around the world know too well. It is essential that we live, cherish and preserve ours. Rendering our representatives accountable for their ideas and votes—in many different ways, including letters and with our own votes at election time—is essential for our Democracy, and is thus both our right and our collective responsibility.
— Antonio Baptista