Open Letter to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

First, as a constituent, let me offer my congratulations to you and your wife on the birth of your twins! A happy day for your family.

And then… Then I read last night that, while you were busy attending to your personal life, our Majority Leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, ignored your hold on the nomination of Lyle Laverty to an assistant Secretary of the Interior, and brought the matter to a vote on the Senate floor.

Did that sting? Did you see red? Does that seem like a betrayal of the collegiality of the world’s greatest deliberative body, for the leader of our own caucus to ignore a long-standing tradition? I think that Senator Reid’s actions would be bad enough if he were a member of the opposition. But to override the wishes of a member of his own party? Ouch.

Believe me, though: Senator Wyden, perhaps now you know how the majority of the American people feel.

I’m used to feeling betrayed by my leaders in Washington. After the debacle of the presidential election in 2000, where the will of the people was overridden by the Supreme Court preventing the votes from being counted in Florida, to the administrations’ subversion of the laws in regards to wiretapping (prior to the sad events of September 11th, 2001, we now know), to President Bush’s dismissal of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden until 3000 lives were lost on that tragic day, to the failure to pursue OBL in Afghanistan and the rush to war in Iraq against a country that posed no threat to us…

The list goes on and on.

And I voted in hope in 2006, on the promise of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders, that with control of Congress, the betrayals would stop. I know many of my friends and family members, and others I read about across the country, in story after story, poll after poll… they all thought the betrayals would end, too.

It hasn’t stopped, Senator Wyden.

I sat in a forum in NE Portland and heard person after person stand up to speak to your colleague, Earl Blumenauer, and tell him over and over again the many reasons why the Bush administration’s dangerous “unitary executive” policies must be stopped, and why, in the eyes of the American people, simply pursuing toothless “non-binding resolutions” or passing legislation that this White House feels it can simply ignore or modify with a signing statement is not nearly enough. Impeachment appears to be an impasse and yet, I feel that President Bush and Vice President Cheney would find impeachment impossible to ignore as they have so many other efforts by you and your colleagues in Congress.

My email sounds to me, upon reading what I’ve already written, to be a smug “the shoe’s on the other foot” taunt. I do not want to diminish my respect for you and your efforts. Many times you have been one of just a few lone voices of dissent on some key issues, and for that I thank you. You seem to prefer to work quietly, behind the scenes, and you try to reach consensus and build bridges with those who disagree with you, which is a noble and honorable way to approach your position.

But, again, as a constituent, as a voter, as an adult who has watched the traditions of our form of government under attack by a president, and a party, and a coalition that has only their own narrow interests at stake, I have to say: I don’t believe you can count on the traditions of Congress and the spirit of civic-minded people to carry the day.

More, much more, courage and leadership is required.

You are not alone. The vast majority of America, including sizable groups of people identified with either major party, wants these dangerous presidential powers and precedents stopped.

It can’t happen soon enough.