A lot of my friends, as well as myself, listen to the New York Times “The Daily” podcast and I was thrilled to post on Facebook Monday morning that our member of congress was the featured interview this week. It’s nice to see that you’re getting noticed and that can only help to gain attention for the things you want to accomplish for the district.
While I had some issues with the way you handled some of the questions (especially in regard to the idea of accountability in government at this historic moment in our democracy, which I’ll get to in a bit) a subsequent episode of “The Daily” Thursday morning really nailed down what’s bothering me about the world today. It has also further clarified for me what your role (as my member of Congress) is at this global historical moment.
You see, Thursday morning’s edition of “The Daily” focuses on the persecution by the Chinese government of the Uyghur people in Xinjiang province. The Chinese government is actually putting hundreds of thousands, if not a million people in “re-education camps.” Essentially, our nearest rival on the world economic stage – an ascendant economic power that simultaneously embraces capitalism and totalitarianism – is piloting exactly what Orwell warned about.
This is what happens in the absence of a free society that operates with democratic principles such as a free press that promotes transparency, and cultural respect for the idea that a general population can and should exercise oversight of their government. This is what happens in the absence of the dream of our own founding fathers - that informed citizens can self govern. As the Chinese government uses gaslighting propaganda to obscure their deeds and convince their own general population of its legitimacy (absent a scrutinizing free press) we hopelessly watch these developments.
Meanwhile, in Russia, Vladimir Putin masquerades his country as a free democracy, which is laughable as he jails his opposition, restricts them from exercising any power, attacks the press, allegedly murders journalists, and dismisses massive protests in Moscow as no threat.
However, most heartbreaking is that here in the U.S., which up until a little over two years ago was seen as the guardian of democracy across the globe, our own leader dabbles in the same authoritarian tendencies, particularly in regard to propaganda (a pathological gas-lighting liar) while resisting transparency and oversight. Day after day, our leader promotes and attempts to execute the same ideologies of these other tyrannical regimes. He jeopardizes the integrity of everything the founding fathers worked to build.
This is where you come in, Representative Sherrill. You came into office because our previous representative was seen to be failing on accountability and transparency. We held our breath for two years after the inauguration of President Trump in hopes that we could regain accountability and oversight of this administration which demonstrated so much corruption and criminality (Flynn, Pruitt, Zinke, etc.) and nearly treasonous behavior (Helsinki). You were a prosecutor, so you had experience in investigating and holding criminality to account. You had military experience, so people thought highly of your patriotism as someone who put their life on the line for the sake of the nation.
During Monday’s interview with the New York Times, you deftly avoided discussion of supporting an impeachment inquiry even though the second part of the Mueller report clearly outlined numerous incidences of obstruction of justice. Over and above that well-publicized mess, the president has shown questionable judgment in regard to national security (clearance overrides for Kushner, mishandling top-secret intel, no interest in protecting against further Russian cyber attacks) and continues to violate the Emoluments Clause by profiting off the presidency. Even in the face of all this shady business, the President and his entire administration laugh off Congressional oversight, weaponizing the courts through the art of frivolous lawsuits to halt transparency.
You emphasized that you wanted to focus on our transit system (the Gateway Tunnel project), on healthcare, and jobs for the district. It seemed ironic to me that China has great transit, universal healthcare, and a booming economy, with a population subservient to its government, while our free nation still fights for so much of what China already has. As a congressional representative, a crucial member of our national government, you stand at the important gateway of our very democracy.
Some speculate that your wavering is all about NJ-11 being a swing district and that somehow, possibly a majority of voters here, think the President should be allowed to be above oversight (especially if Sean Hannity says so). However, if the fear of losing your seat in Congress is driving your hesitancy to endorse an impeachment inquiry, I recommend having a heart-to-heart conversation with Representative Tom Malinowski in our neighboring district NJ-7 or Katie Porter from CA-45. Both of these representatives flipped districts that are still rated by Cook Political Report as R+3 (same as our NJ-11), and both also support the inquiry to hold the president accountable.
You once held the controls of a U.S. Navy Helicopter where at any time your commanding officer could have sent you into harm’s way, risking your life, your future, and basically all that you have right now – all for the sake of your country. We need at least some of that same courage right now. Rep. Sherrill, stand in the way of autocracy and stand up for the rule of law when you return to Washington.