Mark Wilson: Get represented in Congress
Since 1789, when the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives were established, the House was designed to represent the will of the people. In those early days, Senate members were elected by the state legislatures, but members of the House have always been elected directly by the people and given the important, messy job of representing the diverse chorus of American voices on the federal stage.
Since then, our country has witnessed varied levels of performance from those elected to the House. The best among them exhibited the wisdom, courage, insight, honesty and moral strength necessary to move our fledgling Republic closer to the founders’ goals of forming a more perfect union, establishing justice, providing for the common defense, promoting the general welfare, and securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Despite the many challenges to maintaining a democracy, those representatives helped keep the country united through divisive times by representing the broad, determined, optimistic American voice of their constituents.
Today, the divisiveness in both America’s politicians and population is extreme. Politics has become a zero sum game, where one side’s win equals the other’s loss. Cooperation and compromise — the tools of a resilient society — are scoffed at. Instead of honestly listening to and representing the voices of their constituents, many politicians stake out their ideological turf and sow seeds of division among us, labeling us Right or Left, Red or Blue, Conservative or Liberal.
But that’s not who we are. We’re neighbors. We sit next to each other at restaurants or at church. We volunteer on our kids’ field trips together. We contribute our money, time or support to help a family in need. We laugh or cheer together at the movies and share a tear when a beloved community member dies. We’re Americans. We are greater than the labels we are assigned, and we are greater still when we work together as Americans.
In our Congressional district, our representation is seriously lacking. Rather than listening to and representing the different voices of all his constituents, Doug LaMalfa listens to only one voice — his own. Suggestions and knowledge that don’t align with his personal viewpoint are politely listened to by him or his staff and then promptly ignored. Rather than building bridges to unite us in common purpose and improve life in our vast and varied district, Mr. LaMalfa revels in his ability to divide us into neat camps — those who agree with him and those who don’t, Right or Left, Red or Blue, Conservative or Liberal. Apparently it’s easier to point fingers than to introduce legislation to address the district’s problems — in his five years in Congress, he has introduced only one bill that was enacted, and that affected only a small group.
As a result of his lackluster performance, much of the district continues to live with outdated infrastructure, barriers to affordable homeownership and educational opportunities, and limited access to healthcare. A representative who refuses to listen to the collective wisdom that his constituents bring to the table cannot represent them.
His opponent in November’s election, Chico native Audrey Denney, is running as a Democrat, but you don’t need to talk with her for long to understand she intends to represent everyone in the district, regardless of party affiliation. Are you a business owner interested in expanding your business? A worker who needs a living wage to get ahead? A Veteran not getting the services you were promised? A woman who’d like to be paid the same as the guy working next to you? A renter searching for some miracle to finally be able to buy a house? A student lacking affordable loans to get through school to get a good paying job? A person who’s delayed medical care you know you need because you’re sure it will bankrupt you?
Audrey Denney wants to hear about it and do something about it. As a teacher, Audrey knows the best results come from listening to as many people as possible, considering all viewpoints and facts, and finding a solution that works for everyone.
I’m sure there are voters in the district who feel represented by Mr. LaMalfa. But if you think you might differ with even one of his personal beliefs or opinions that might affect your life, do yourself a favor and check out Audrey Denney’s website at audreyforcongress.com.You might find she agrees with you.
And what’s more, when you talk with her, she’ll really listen.
Mark Wilson lives in Nevada City.
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