This letter is based upon a profile of Jon Runyan by Cynthia Burton in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
Dear Congressman-Elect Runyan,
Congratulations on your recent election. I hope you work as hard to represent all the people of the Third District as you worked in your campaign.
As you take the oath of office in January, you become one of the youngest members of Congress, and I am pleased to learn that you will follow in the footsteps of your predecessors Jim Saxton and John Adler in emphasizing constituent services. Often, the federal government is the stop of last resort for those who have been hit severely by the Bush Recession, and I’m happy to see that you will help them utilize the government as a safety net so they can enjoy the fruits of what America has to offer without worrying about choosing between food and medicine.
More after the fold…
You expressed interest in serving on two committees – Armed Services and Natural Resources. I applaud your selection, because there’s a lot of hard work to be done in these areas, but I am troubled by your positions related to the work of these committees.
The biggest drain on our economy today (besides Wall Street greed) is the wars of choice in the Middle East. These wars were started without any specific exit criteria, yet you state that we should rely on the military to tell us when the mission is accomplished. This is a dangerous approach, because the generals and admirals see things through the prism of their experience and career advancement potential. It is up to the President, with the advice and consent of Congress, to determine when our mission is completed, and hopefully this will be sooner rather than later.
I am also concerned about your desire to be on the Natural Resources committee. You favor oil drilling off the Atlantic Coast, and call the BP spill “unfortunate.” Respectfully, I think it is more than “unfortunate” that eleven men were killed, the beauty of the Gulf environment is spoiled for decades, and thousands of fishermen are out of jobs. This is not “unfortunate”; it is a disaster. If we allow Atlantic drilling, there’s a good chance that a similar catastrophe could happen here. I enjoy walking on the beaches on Long Beach Island with my grandson, and would like to be able to do so for many years to come. Instead of perpetuating our addiction to fossil fuels, let’s step up the quest for affordable renewable energy; an Apollo-like program to wean us from fossil fuels is needed to jump start American entrepreneurship and ingenuity.
I’m happy to see that you have stated some positions that are contrary to those of the Republican leadership. Your pro-choice stance and your opposition to raising the Social Security retirement age make sense. While Social Security is under attack by many of your colleagues, the solution is rather straightforward. Elimination of the cap on payroll deductions would ensure the Social Security fund is solvent for decades to come, and I hope you would be a proponent for this in the 112th Congress.
I was concerned when I read that you spent a lot of time listening to talk radio during your campaign drives. Most of today’s talk radio is full of venom and devoid of facts. I hope that as a congressman, you will spend time gathering information from across the spectrum, including the New York Times, The Nation, and Rachel Maddow’s commentary on MSNBC. You may not agree with everything you read or hear, but it will make you a better legislator as you take into account the positions of all your constituents.
Just like there’s a difference between the nuances of backyard touch football and professional-level NFL play execution, governing requires an understanding of the intricacies and details of interrelated issues. I hope you don’t emulate our governor by “dumbing down” these complex issues to simple sound bites.
While I didn’t vote for you, you are going to be my congressman, and I wish you well and hope you continue to strike an independent path from your party, work with President Obama, compromise when called for, and provide much-needed help to America’s middle class and the country’s downtrodden.