Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Kudos to my Congresswoman

Norman Rockwell painting from the Four Freedoms series
About 6:30 last night, my phone rang (the land line - yes, I still have one) and I picked it up expecting the usual solicitation (90% of my telephone calls are solicitations or recorded political pitches).  I'm one of those rare people who do not screen my calls.  A voice asked me to stay on the line to join Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1) for a Telephone Town Hall and... I didn't hang up. Frankly,  I was curious what my Congresswoman had to say.  The voice said I could press "0" anytime to ask a question, so I listened in my own house to my Congresswoman answer questions from her constituents.  I wondered why I was called?  Random? A mistaken number?  I listened for an hour and even queued up to submit a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact.

Michelle Lujan Grisham
I enjoyed participating in this "Town Hall" and,  luckily, I wasn't busy at the time. I don't know how many citizens participated in this event, but it seemed to me that this was the quintessence of democracy in a new technological age.  The Congresswoman handled the questions gracefully and with good knowledge about most of the issues and she and her staff certainly got a lot of feedback on what issues were important to her constituents.  So kudos to Congressman Michelle for doing this. In these times where Congress is at its lowest approval rating and bashed daily by most US news outlets, talk radio and the blogosphere, I think it does the American people a disservice that Congress is painted in broad strokes as a bunch of self-serving, corrupt politicians. But let's face it, the American people are not "feeling it all that much" these days and we turn off when Congress speaks.

Our House of Representatives was designed to be the "People's House" with citizens serving short 2 year periods in office, representing their local constituents and debating legislation with the rest of the people's representatives to govern our nation in partnership with the Senate. There are hard-working, honest representatives in Congress, in both political parties, who are shining examples of public service with little notice by the media who favor controversial and flamboyant antics of certain politicians who say outrageous things, engage in corruption, sexual misconduct, or are caught in compromising situations.  Where people are disengaged in the political process, beaten down by poverty or economic distress, poorly educated, and dished up a steady diet of "fast food" distraction television, democracy suffers. The loud-mouthed "shock talk" radio hosts get more of our attention than do our elected representatives when political issues are being discussed.

Every two years, we see a freshmen class of Congressmen and Congresswomen and hope that they can make a difference to change the status quo in Congress.  I personally think that more women in Congress will make a big difference and with 20 women in the Senate now, we are beginning to see "new standards for civility and bipartisanship".

Michelle Lujan Grisham is one of the newly elected women in the House that represents these higher standards of behavior in Congress.  Just look at this  recent interview on a local PBS television show with Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham.  She's bright, knowledgeable, passionate about the issues and the people she serves, and she isn't afraid to tell the truth - even about mistakes her own political party has made (for example, her criticism of the ACA starting at minute 14.00).

Congress would be better off with more people like Michelle Lujan Grisham elected.  This can only happen if the voters pay attention to the issues and the players without having some hyperbolic filter in between pushing emotional hot buttons.

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