Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who IS my Congressman?

I’d like to know who my Congressman is. Yes, I’m aware of his name, it’s Michael McMahon; I just don’t know who he is, and I’d really like to.

I’m also aware of his party affiliation, and in times past that might have been all I needed to know, but it’s hard to recognize the Democratic Party these days. That they have been wandering to the Left for decades is not a surprise – that they have become so brazenly and fully anti-capitalist is.

So I look at Congressman McMahon and wonder if he’s advancing an agenda he believes in, or if he’s just going along for the ride - someday I’d like to ask him.

Really, I would - heart-to-heart, as a neighbor, not as a constituent. I’d say, “Do you really believe in the President’s anti-capitalist agenda? Do you really believe that the free market is a failed concept? Do you really believe that an economic downturn, no matter how serious, is an excuse to scrap the whole system; to take a headlong dive into European-style socialism?”

Because that’s the way my Congressman is voting.

I met him once at a campaign get-together in the lovely backyard of a North Shore friend; a biergarten-style barbeque on a beautiful early-fall evening. My impression was that of an exceedingly nice guy, very bright, ambitious and in possession of all the skills necessary to be a highly successful politician. I saw no indications that I was meeting a socialist – or, at least, an enabler of socialism. Or was I?

And that gets to the crux of the matter. IS my Congressman a socialist, or does he just vote that way? He is voting with the majority on bills that are changing the American landscape not in subtle ways, but in a series of violent, seismic shifts to the left; is he cowed into doing so because of his freshman status? Does he fear that crossing party lines will result in lukewarm support from the DCCC in 2010 – his first re-election attempt and the one in which House members are most vulnerable?

Or has he actually bought into what his party is attempting to sell?

Congressman McMahon, Staten Islander, regular guy, solid American citizen, was born in the biggest melting pot the world has ever known. If he was like me, and like so many other sons or daughters of so many other immigrants, he grew up proud of his heritage, but understanding that he was an un-hyphenated American before all else, and that he had every right to claim the same mantle of rugged individualism and personal responsibility as the earliest settlers, revolutionaries, pioneers, and lovers if liberty.

How then can he vote with his party’s majority? How then can he stand proudly next to the likes of such odious blame-America-firsters as Nancy Pelosi, Barney Franks and Steny Hoyer? How then can he look us all straight in the eye and say that yes, he STILL believes we are a nation of rugged individualists, who accept personal responsibility as part of the cost of maintaining our individual liberties? How then can he not realize that the moment you allow the government to become the chief supplier of sustenance for yourself and your family, you have sacrificed the one thing that has made you uniquely American – the freedom to follow your own path, whether it leads to success or to failure?

Congressman, during our conversation I would like to ask you if you believe, as I do, that the leadership of your party is doling out goodies in unprecedented sums in order to buy perpetual power, and do you support this? I, for one, harbor a dread that this is no longer a government of, by and for ALL the people. Why is it that I’m feeling that this is a government FOR some of the people, and AGAINST others?

There is nothing more American than strong differences of opinion between supporters of different political parties – it has been going on since before the Declaration of Independence. But here, now, something is amiss; some much greater issue has taken center stage. Whatever our political differences have been in the past, the one underlying belief was that we, as American citizens of any political stripe, would always be protected by the rule of law and by the Constitution; beliefs which transcended party lines.

I fear that this is no longer the case, and I want my Congressman to give it to me straight: is he joining forces with those who would strip us of our Constitutional guarantees, or will his birthright as a free and independent American lead him to use his voice - and his vote - to protect and defend the documents and traditions that have given our citizens more liberty and opportunity than any other civilization in the history of the world?

Over the centuries, America has survived wars and upheavals that have threatened its very existence, but America has never been faced with the danger it confronts now. A President has taken power - along with a Congress that has an almost filibuster-proof majority - and this President and this Congress are taking our country on a path very, very far from the America of our forebears.

So Congressman McMahon, if we ever do get to sit down together again, just to talk, a couple of Staten Island guys born in roughly the same place at roughly the same time, please be prepared to field this question: Do you stand with the America envisioned by Barack Obama and so many in your party?

Or do you stand with the real America? The America of our Founding Fathers, indeed, the America of our own fathers.

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