Don’t Blow It: An Open Letter to the Newly Elected Congress

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Dear newly elected Congresspeople,

Yes you, the newbies, the previously little-knowns, the everyday men and women who finally had enough, and who responded to the call of their communities and fellow-citizens to do something by running for public office. For most of you, it was the first time.

You did it! You ran and you won! You had to overcome gerrymandering, voter suppression, maybe even voter fraud. You needed multiples of normal turnout, and you succeeded. Huge numbers of voters came out to support you and what you stood for.

Now you’re off to Washington. This is your time, your opportunity, and now your civic responsibility to represent us as a fellow sentient being. You can be different from the usual crop of incoming congressional “freshmen.” You are not there to “learn the ropes” of power, while offering unilateral bi-partisanship, hoping to look “reasonable.” You are not there to make backroom deals in return for incremental change. You are there because Rome is burning, and you need to put out the fire right away.

You are there to stop the wholesale dismantling of our country’s most cherished and vital institutions by a lawless President and his spineless or compromised enablers.

The rule of law itself is under siege, as is our supposedly inviolate free press, as well as our justice system upon which our national values depend. The very existence of observable truth is now publicly and purposefully called into doubt by those in the White House in preparation for the inevitable day of legal reckoning, where only an unverifiable “alternative reality” can protect the guilty. Already in-process is a rapid, intentional dismantling of the very institutions that exist to protect us from the dismantling of these institutions. This reprehensible process will soon be irreversible.

Now is not the time for the usual hand-wringing, focus groups and cautious political calculations in order to justify taking bold action to right these wrongs. You must rely on the rule of law quickly, while it’s still mostly intact, as your legal foundation and moral sword. Our laws are established, and while they are continually subject to varied interpretation, they do exist as real and enforceable regardless of what is said by a dishonest President. The rule of law offers us a path out of our national moment of emergency.

And what about you, the rest of our Representatives and Senators? Those of you in both parties who are already in office — what are you waiting for? You can agree to disagree on all other issues, but when it comes to the bedrock of our democracy there is no middle ground. We either live by the rule of law, or we become subject to the rule of the lawless.

All of you, be bold. Be public. Be persistent. Be loud. Don’t express concern, express conviction and take action!

There’s no reason to wait until January. Speak and act now. Do so individually and as one with your fellow freshmen representatives and, if possible, with the incumbents.

Reach across the aisle for this one reason – to invite your political adversaries to join you, at least just this one time, for this singular action — to stand up for the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. The old guard may not easily rise to the occasion in either party, so inspire them with your authenticity and your clear commitment. Survival of our American ideals and the model of government that represents those ideals must transcend political parties.

Go forward with confidence. Walk your talk. Be the leaders you were inspired to be, those you were elected to be. We believed you as you ran for office, and we believe in you now. So be there with us and for us, all of us – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, men, women, brown, yellow, black, white, young and old. We are your friends, your families, your neighbors, your fellow-citizens. We are counting on you even as our democracy teeters on the precipice.

You are the new hope, maybe the last and only hope, and there is too much at stake. So please, don’t blow it. Make the most of it. Stand, speak and act in your integrity. Make us proud. Make that difference. We are counting on you.

Thanks in advance,

Richard Lang
On behalf of my fellow-citizens