U.S. Senators Copy, Paste, and No Show

by Autumn Lakeland

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Back on January 20, 2017, I sent an email to Senator Ron Johnson asking him to vote NO on the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. I was among the estimated millions across America who reached out to elected officials urging them to disagree with Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Education. We, along with Senate Democrats, found it unacceptable to nominate DeVos, noting that her lack of experience in public education disqualifies her as education secretary. She was further criticised by teachers’ unions and others for her defense of charter schools and voucher programs.

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Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI)

Although unsuccessful in our attempt to sway Republican senators to vote no, the voices that reached out across the country were able to influence two Republican Senators — Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski(Alaska).
On February 7th, the votes came back in a 50/50 split and for the first time in Senate history, Vice President Mike Pence voted to break the tie to secure Devos as Secretary of Education.

Photo from Vice President Pence

Photo from Vice President Pence Twitter Account. Caption: Joined by Sen Ron Johnson & Sec Tom Price on the way to Wisconsin to meet with small biz owners & discuss challenges they face, like Obamacare.

While checking my email sometime late on January 24th I found a response from Senator Ron Johnson. The reply is as follows:

Thank you for contacting me about your concerns with the president’s choices for his staff and cabinet.

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint principal officers “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” The Constitution also allows Congress to let the president fill lesser offices without needing to obtain the Senate’s advice and consent.

I take the Senate’s advice-and-consent duty very seriously because appointed individuals are entrusted with a great deal of power in their respective roles. The right of the Senate to confirm high level executive nominations and judicial appointments is one of the most important checks the legislative branch has on the executive branch. At the same time, a president should be given latitude in making his appointments.

I think we should give the president and his administration the chance to start governing. Then we, the people, can pass judgment on what the administration actually is doing rather than having to speculate on possible actions or policies. I am fully aware of the importance of filling positions within the judicial and executive branches and will work cooperatively with any administration in its efforts to appoint high-quality individuals.

Thank you again for contacting my office. It is very helpful to hear the views of the constituents I serve. To date, my office has received more than 2,000,000 letters, emails and phone calls. My mission is to provide information to as many people as possible concerning the enormous financial and cultural challenges facing America.

Please see my website at http://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov for additional information. It is an honor representing you and all the people of Wisconsin.
Sincerely,

Ron Johnson
United States Senator

As a concerned citizen I feel it’s my duty to contact elected officials to make my voice heard. I’ve read on many occasions that most legislators do pay attention to correspondence from their constituents and their staff count the number of phone calls, emails and letters that voters send. Much is said about the importance of contacting officials as a way to help bring about positive change in such a divisive political environment. So when I was asked again to contact my Senator concerning Trump’s pick of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai and his aggressive swipe at Net Neutrality I said YES.qa4EDYBw

I am very much concerned about Pai’s attempt to corporatize the Internet. It should be free for all to use. The Internet has become an essential part of life and, with the cost skyrocketing, many are unable to afford web access. With this in mind I sent Senator Johnson an email and here’s the response I got back:

Thank you for contacting me about your concerns with the president’s choices for his staff and cabinet.

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint principal officers “by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.” The Constitution also allows Congress to let the president fill lesser offices without needing to obtain the Senate’s advice and consent.

I take the Senate’s advice-and-consent duty very seriously because appointed individuals are entrusted with a great deal of power in their respective roles. The right of the Senate to confirm high level executive nominations and judicial appointments is one of the most important checks the legislative branch has on the executive branch. At the same time, a president should be given latitude in making his appointments.

I think we should give the president and his administration the chance to start governing. Then we, the people, can pass judgment on what the administration actually is doing rather than having to speculate on possible actions or policies. I am fully aware of the importance of filling positions within the judicial and executive branches and will work cooperatively with any administration in its efforts to appoint high-quality individuals.

Thank you again for contacting my office. It is very helpful to hear the views of the constituents I serve. To date, my office has received more than 2,000,000 letters, emails and phone calls. My mission is to provide information to as many people as possible concerning the enormous financial and cultural challenges facing America.

Please see my website at http://www.ronjohnson.senate.gov for additional information. It is an honor representing you and all the people of Wisconsin.
Sincerely,

Ron Johnson
United States Senator

Yes, it is the same, exact email I received from him almost 6 weeks ago.  After discussing this with some friends I found that they, too, had received the same, exact email. This left me wondering if Johnson actually pays attention to his constituents. I did a quick web search of the Senator and found some other alarming information.

First I found a petition demanding that Senator Ron Johnson make himself available to his constituents through publicized town halls. So why did they have to create a petition to get him to participate?

Next I found that a scheduled Town Hall in Green Bay, WI with over 300 people went on without Johnson being present. Apparently he told them he couldn’t make it. But this also happened on in River Falls, WI when an overflow crowd at the public library heard “Unfortunately, Sen. Johnson will not be able to join us this evening.”

Photo by M.P.King State Journal

Photo by M.P.King State Journal

Next I learned that hundreds of protesters showed up outside Sen. Johnson’s office upset that he is not holding town halls with constituents.

Then I found that on March 2, Johnson held a telephone town hall in Milwaukee. Instead of showing up and listening to the voices of the people in person the Senator cowardly called in.

Next I read that infuriated Wisconsinites along with Cards Against Humanity are mailing potatoes to the office of  Sen. Johnson until he holds an in-person town hall meeting.

Most disturbing was an article posted about Senator Johnson sending ‘Cease and Desist’ letters to constituents. The claims were later found to be real but “misleading” and lead to a post by the group Citizen Action called, Setting The Record Straight.

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Real letter from Senator Johnson’s office sent to Mr. Earl Good of Milwaukee.

This is not how Senators should represent their voters. Johnson has done his best to avoid Wisconsinites and unwilling to listen to their concerns which have grown into anger. But this isn’t just the case in Wisconsin. Senators across the country have simply refused to show up at Town Halls. Why won’t they do their job?

The excuses have ranged from constituents bullying and intimidation tactics, paid protestors brought in to disrupt meetings, angry outbursts from liberal activists and Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s statement that the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Gifford could explain why he is not hosting in-person town halls.

“Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety.” – Rep. Gohmert

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GOP lawmakers Facing Angry Town Halls
photo by CNN

Simply put, Republican lawmakers are scared to hear the voices of the people. They know We The People are angry at what’s happening to our rights. We’re angry over healthcare, abortion rights, the travel ban, Trump’s ties with Russia, racist and xenophobic immigration policies, fake news, increases in the military-industrial complex, and Trump’s financial oligarchy cabinet choices. The list goes on and on. As the GOP members ignore We The People the more frustrated we get. These Senators must think that not acknowledging us will make us go away. They may soon wake up to the reality that, as time goes by, the angrier our voices will become. It behooves the Republican lawmakers to face and listen to us. Whether I quote Shakespeare, Churchill or Thomas the meaning is the same, We will not go quietly into the night.

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