Filibustered by Congress
“Write your congressman” — advice I have heard — and given — all of my adult life. Often, I wrote. I have written scores of letters to senators and congresspersons. Acknowledging that it would likely make only a slight difference, if any, I wrote. Past experience was that the congressperson, or her staff, replied. Often there was disagreement. Still, I wrote and they replied. Occasionally, in the process, our positions and concerns were clarified. Sometimes there were acknowledgments of gratitude beyond ‘thank you for writing.’ There was, implicitly at least, a search for common understanding — perhaps some shared awareness might be found, even if only a tiny patch of it — light (insight) that is.
Today it seems that the Republicans in Congress are filibustering the American people as we search for light. Instead of filibustering in Congress we now are in a time of filibustering by Congress. What is the truth regarding the actions of Donald Trump and his enablers regarding aid withheld and encouragement needed for a more democratic governance in the Ukraine?
An impeachment has resulted and now a Senate trial. Efforts to hear from witnesses, to see public documents or interview government officials involved are avoided or denied altogether. We deserve answers — instead we receive what can only be understood as ideological fog and attempts by persons like Rudy Giuliani to tell us “up is down” and “left is right.” There is an embargo on needed information — a filibuster is set up against information for the citizens of the United States.
In the past, I wrote my representatives and they replied. That was then. Now? Not so much. I continue to write. My experience with Trey Hollingsworth, Congressman from Indiana’s Ninth Congressional District, exemplifies the problem. No more honest exchange. (I also write Senators Young and Braun and find a similar sad pattern of avoiding and filibustering in their responses.) Responses to my letters are delayed or not received at all. Worse yet, when a response comes, there is an avoidance of answers to specific questions. Instead there is a blaming of others, a sense of victimization, an avoidance of seeking after any truth other than what little can fit in a narrow ideological corner. Below are my questions for Representative Hollingsworth first sent on November 8, 2019; then, sent again, December 19, 2019.
- Do you believe the testimony of Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman that efforts were made to demand of Ukrainian President Zelensky a public statement against a private citizen of the United States in exchange for the release of much needed military aid?
- Do you observe this as a way Mr. Trump continues to act in support of the global agenda of Mr. Putin and Russia?
- Was Russia engaged in trying to influence elections in 2016 and is Russia already at work on interfering in the 2020 elections?
- What are you, as a congressman, doing to protect us from any such attacks?
- Was the National Rifle Association a conduit for Russian influence in our elections?
- Did former Congressman Rohrabacher and Pete Sessions receive direct support from Russia or were they indirectly assisted by the use of Russian directed bots on social media?
- Have you received, or are you open to receiving, aid from any foreign country, especially Russia for your political campaigns?
- What will you say to your grandchildren when they ask in twenty years, “What did you do to protect representative democracy, grandpa?” [This is not a rhetorical question. I sincerely want your answer.]
A response, of sorts, from Representative Hollingsworth came on January 3rd. Remembering my questions, here is what I received:
I realize my questions were direct, troubling for those who would seek to protect Donald Trump and his administration. However, they were more. Most could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Each question was a sincere effort to get at the truth. Of course, question number eight challenges the Congressman to think about his legacy — what indeed will he say to his grandchildren?
I am wondering if others in my congressional district and state might try… perhaps if there are three of us, or ten of us, or one hundred of us, we might get more than responses that seek to avoid honest and direct answers to these questions.
And in recent days, many other disturbing questions have emerged. Was Ambassador Yovanovitch under surveillance while in the Ukraine? What was the role played by our Secretary of State? Our Vice President? Our Attorney General? The Secretary of Energy? The Ranking House Republican on the Intelligence Committee?
It seems each week is filled with new information that Senator McConnell, his allies and President Trump would like to sweep under a carpet of avoidance and obfuscation. I believe we, the American People, deserve more than a filibuster against us. I wish to know the truth that might be uncovered in answering my first set of questions. If answered, they would offer a place to begin to understand what is at play.
Our future as a Constitutional Democracy requires more than a filibuster of information directed against us, the Citizens. As Timothy Snyder puts it so well, “post-truth is pre-fascism.”