Steve Daines (R-MT), Other Congressmen Can Do Better

Steve Daines 1Here is what’s wrong with politics in the United States today.

Steve Daines was elected to the US House of Representatives from Montana in 2012.  While he was never touted as a “Tea Party Conservative,” Daines courted the increasingly politically powerful coalition of Tea Party groups from across the Big Sky State and enjoyed their support through his primary push and the general election.

You will hear enlightened voters lament often, and everywhere:  once a politician of either party gets to Washington, DC, they are swallowed up by the federal power structure.  Men and women of the highest integrity, with the best of intentions, land inside the Beltway and in very short order become pawns of their respective parties, losing their autonomy and values along the way.  Blame the money, blame personal ambition, or blame the system, it seems to happen over and over again.

Maybe Congressman Daines is the latest victim.

A conservative friend of mine recently wrote to Daines encouraging him to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  The TPP has received criticism from both Democrats and Republicans alike, for widely varying reasons.  The benefits to the US of joining such a broad-ranging multi-lateral trade agreement are sketchy at best, dangerous at worst, and the secrecy of the proceedings has caused considerable alarm.  President Obama’s recent overtures toward inclusion of communist China in the agreement is a five-alarm fire.

I am not arguing the merits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement in this post.  What upsets me is the way Congressman Daines responded to his constituent.

It’s clear that the Daines staff has two form letters prepared for citizens who contact his office about this issue.  (This procedure likely applies to every issue about which a constituent might contact the congressman.)  Form letter “A” would be sent to a constituent who supports the congressman’s position.  Form letter “B” is sent to one who opposes.

My friend, a conservative supporter of Daines, received form letter “B” because she opposed the TPP.  And here is the ugly, cynical, political part of the process.  Republican Daines’ staff assumes that if a constituent opposes his position, he/she must be a Democrat.  And by deductive reasoning, he/she must be a big supporter of labor unions and environmental causes.  So this is the response that Congressman Daines’ conservative constituent received:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and international trade in general. As someone with nearly three decades of experience in the private sector, I value your point of view on this important issue and appreciate the opportunity to respond.
As you know, the United States is currently negotiating a TPP agreement with twelve Trans-Pacific countries. The purpose of the potential agreement is to create jobs and boost economic growth in our country by increasing U.S. exports to this growing region. You may be pleased to know that labor and environmental concerns are being addressed as part of the negotiations. (ed. emphasis) The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has noted that such provisions “are now standard (in U.S. trade agreements) and increasingly enforceable.” I respectfully support our efforts to expand trade in the Trans-Pacific region, and I am monitoring the negotiations.

I’m pretty sure Congressman Daines did not personally read the letter from his (former) supporter.  If he had any personal or political sensitivity, he would not have suggested that his Tea Party Conservative supporter’s top priorities are “labor and environmental concerns” – especially at a time when the indefensible and incredibly expensive “global warming” hoax is being laid bare by record ice packs and an “inconveniently truthful” pattern of global cooling.

How cynical, how disingenuous, how condescending is this letter to a conservative supporter?  Did this come from Congressman Daine’s office, or from Speaker of the House John Boehner’s?

I know how difficult it is to get elected to a national office.  I understand that a congressman must represent all of his constituents – even those who did not vote for him.  But shouldn’t a congressman have principles from which he can articulate and defend a position?  Must he pander to the beliefs he assumes to attribute to a given constituent?

I’m tired – very tired – of politicians who are quick to say whatever they think the nearest voter wants to hear.  And of those who try to ride the fence to election without studying an issue and coming to a conclusion that they are able and willing to defend.  Has our vaunted system of government – the federal republic – been reduced to nothing more than a poll-driven, focus-group, finger-in-the-wind marketing campaign?

Steve Daines, and the rest of you in Congress and the Senate:  you can do better than this.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideI’ll even tell you that I love you,
If you want me to.
Third-rate romance,
Low-rent rendezvous.

Third Rate Romance – Amazing Rhythm Aces

Sorry there are no “live” video performances available of this great story/song by the Amazing Rhythm Aces.  There are many covers, but nothing compares to the original.  I sing this song almost every weekend – it is not only a poignant vignette about the sometimes sad state of romance in our culture, but it also serves as a reference point to the “bend over” current state of politics in our once-great nation.

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