Trolling Washington

I troll my elected officials in Washington.

I remind them on Twitter that the tax cuts they champion ballooned the deficit they say they’re reducing. I remind them it hasn’t helped wages the way they say it has. I ask them why they talk about children forcibly separated from their parents, and where they are on President Trump’s racism and sexism and bigotry. And don’t get me started on the Russia attack on our elections.

But I know they don’t read the tweets, and I know tweets are an ineffective way of getting their attention. That’s OK, the elected officials aren’t my primary audience.

My city has a strong tradition of voting Democratic so the state legislature gerrymandered it, cutting it in half and pairing it with rural, conservative voters. Consequently, Greensboro is represented by two conservative Republican House members, leaving the moderate and liberal voters no voice. The two representatives vote in lockstep with the party, except when the party is too moderate. My senators are a little better — Richard Burr seems to be doing a good, bipartisan job as the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — but when it’s time to vote, they generally go along with the party.

I understand that. Elections have consequences. Meanwhile, these politicians don’t hold town hall meetings. Write them a letter and, chances are, you get a form letter in return. You can call and speak with an aide or an intern, but even if they got tens of thousands of calls in favor of Obamacare or gun control or abortion rights or the Supreme Court, their positions wouldn’t change. I get that — they have certain values that they won’t cross.

But their silence about issues concerning their constituents must be called out. Do they agree with President Trump on the issues of immigration, Russia, Iran, North Korea and “shithole” countries? Do they think the news media are the enemy of the people? Are they OK with his attacks on the rule of law and the American justice system?

How comfortable are they with the leader of their party’s lies, misstatements and obfuscation? President Trump lies about matters of intense importance to the safety and security of the nation and our democracy.

The silence of my reps in D.C. suggests assent, and that disturbs me.

Perhaps they disagree with him on some issues and hate his lies, but they fear his wrath and the wrath of his base? That’s a different kind of cowardice. Maybe they believe that the ends justify the means. Trump will appoint anti-abortion judges and cut tax rates so they’ll tolerate his immoral and offensive behavior.

Of course, you have Rep. Mark Walker who regularly talks with Trump, so there’s that.

I’ve tried to tell them that they’re going to be seen as on the wrong side of history. They have options. There are several moves they can make without leaving their conservative roots, as Charlie Sykes writes here.

I wish they read the tweets. Perhaps they’d be inspired – or shamed – to speak out. Leadership, after all, demands courage and standing up for what you believe. This article suggests that voicing caution or restraint or even opposition can be an effective deterrent to objectionable ideas.

But, no, my congressmen, especially the House members, are men who seem to look the other way. 

It’s unclear if they are members of the Trump Party or the Republican Party. As Jennifer Finney Boylan writes about creating a new Republican Party based on the old Republican Party ethos, “The Republican Party could be overthrown by the Republican Party and replaced with — well, the Republican Party. That would require that the people John Boehner described as “napping somewhere” find their principles and their courage, and wake up.”

It’s important that people know what their reps believe and value. So I troll them to remind them and my followers on Twitter that some of us are watching. And expecting better.