Dear Sen. Reed, Sen. Whitehouse, Rep. Langevin and Rep. Cicilline:
On a wintry Sunday, nearly 1,000 Rhode Islanders braved the snowstorm to demand that you, our congressional delegation, lead our state in resisting the Trump regime. The meeting itself was an extraordinary event in Rhode Island politics, and we thank you for clearly making an effort to respond and listen to our voices.
Deborah Lennon’s phrase, ‘Tone Deaf,’ caught the essence of the problem with the meeting: Your response is tone deaf to the magnitude of the threat we face.
Where is Obama’s ‘fierce urgency of now’? Where is the outrage of our congressional delegation? We saw glimpses as Senator Reed spoke about defending the Constitution, Senator Whitehouse spoke about overturning Citizens United, and Representative Langevin had a twinkle in his eye as he talked about inviting minorities demeaned by Trump to the State of the Union. While your response was resolute, your tone and language remain dispassionate and wonkish, talking of procedures, rules and careful consideration.
You cannot abandon your principles or resort to the obstruction used by Republicans, but you must find your passion and speak without hesitation to defend our country, our institutions and our most vulnerable citizens.
You were inspired to run for office to move Rhode Island forward. You share with us a common set of aspirations: education; health care; child care; employment and safety, all of which was eloquently described by Representative Cicilline.
At present there is no path to advance these goals in the federal government. The battle for decorum and reason in government has been lost. You now need to represent us in an insurgent war against a regime that has no respect for reason or the rule of law. This is not a fight that any of us, especially you, wanted but it is the fight we are in. In spite of Republicans controlling the Oval Office and both houses of Congress, there has been no effort to advance legislation or policy to benefit our country. This regime is not interested in governing as intended by our Constitution; instead they plan to govern by fiat, backed by fear and division. The first 23 days of blunders and backstabbing should give us no comfort about the malicious intent of those in power. Americans have already died at the hands of the new administration and many more will follow if they achieve their goal to repeal the ACA.
You now share something in common with the blue-collar workers whose livelihood and purpose has been stolen by events beyond their control. Your burden is to adapt and become activists, not just politicians. With the upcoming congressional recess, we need your participation and leadership to unite statewide activism.
They say it is difficult to go from activist to politician. We need you to do the opposite: grab the reins of an angry and uncertain movement and unite us with your passion and steady hand. Don’t tolerate our passion, instead embrace it. Let’s work together to keep this nation a place we are proud to live in: one of hope, one of possibility, and one of equal opportunity for all Americans.