Time for clarity, Mr. Walden

See Disclaimer.

Dear Congressman Walden:

Earlier this year, at the very tail end of one of your Town Halls, we had the briefest one-on-one conversation about a House bill. I contextualized my question with my deep concern with the unfitness of this president. At that mention, you rolled your eyes. As you quickly answered my question on the bill—while being ushered away to your next Town Hall by an aid—I never had a chance to clarify what your eye roll meant. Was it: “Oh, no! Another president-opposer” or rather “Yes, I know he is unfit, but what can I do?”.

In reading your recent press release (“Greg Walden Statement on President Trump’s Recent Comments,” July 16, 2019), I am flooded by the same sense of uncertainty. What did you mean, Sir?

I wholeheartedly agree with (and applaud!) the beginning of your statement. It is direct, clear and principled: “America is a nation of immigrants and I do not, and will never, condone discrimination. The President’s recent tweets do not reflect the values that we hold dear in America and they are comments that should not be made about any American citizen regardless of who they are or where they work.”

But then you quickly put this president’s tweets in a basket with arguable statements by others, and chastise the entire set as “distractions”—thus diluting the unique responsibilities of America’s leader of the Executive Branch.

And you close the press release with an indefensible “[…] taking time to vote on political resolutions condemning the President wastes precious time that should be spent debating and voting on legislation that directly improves the lives of Americans. Respectfully, Congress needs to stop wasting time bickering over mean tweets and get back to tackling the real problems facing our nation.”

Worse, you went on to vote “no” on the House resolution condemning this president for his bigotry. That resolution was a waste of time, Sir? Really? Since when preserving core American  values is a waste of time?

You are an experienced and savvy politician, Mr. Walden. You know that this president’s tweets were not merely mean. At face value, they violated our anti-discrimination laws. They were unethical, xenophobic, and—yes—racist. But, above and beyond, they also served a political purpose. They tested the waters for how effective the “Send her back to her country” message could be in this president’s upcoming re-election campaign. And they certainly demonstrated to him that the message resonates among his most ardent supporters.

Is your conscience at peace, Sir? Troubled times call for clarity from our leaders. If the thought of “Send her back” as a rallying cry for a presidential re-election does not send a chill down your spine—much like the foreboding of impending doom—you are ignoring the lessons of World War II history, and do not deserve to represent Oregon’s Second District.

Respectfully, but with deep regret.

— Antonio Baptista


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