Friday, December 11, 2020

An Open Letter to My Congressman, Jack Bergman

 Congressman Bergman:

Where did your heart and mind turn so wrong? When you entered Congress, your three priorities were to get Congress working together instead of focusing on partisan divides, utilize the Constitution, and balance the budget.

After the abhorrent shooting at the practice for the annual charity softball game, you said you abhorred the hateful rhetoric that serves no purpose. I applauded that remark. You’ve tweeted your concern when Speaker Pelosi called President Trump and Republican Congressmen who supported him “domestic enemies” because of actions taken she believes suppressed legitimate votes in the upcoming election. [8/24/20].

Yet I can find no record of you speaking out against any of the hate-filled tweets issued by President Trump. No railing against chants of “Lock her up.” Why?

During your first three years as Congressman—a great economic expansion and prior to any spending related to the novel coronavirus recession—the annual budget deficits were $665 billion, $779 billion, and $984 billion. Yet you voted for the Trump tax cuts that drove a large percentage of these increasing deficits with no offsetting revenue or equivalent cut in expenses.

You said President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority by imposing DACA. Only congress, you said, has the authority to create legislation, not the executive branch. We could debate that claim, but I find no record of you criticizing President Trump for any of the nearly 200 executive actions he has taken in less than four years. Nor do I find any indication you believe any of these actions have overstepped executive branch authority. Nor have you objected to any of the myriad claims of executive privilege to withhold information and testimony by executive branch employees requested by Congress. Yet DACA is different.

And yesterday, you signed your name to an attempted political coup. Not a traditional coup involving armed soldiers or citizens—although some of your fellow congressional representatives seem to condone such acts—a coup committed by partisan lawyers and their followers. This is your dark vision of what it means to use our constitution: Of the fifty states, the only four sued are those in which voters chose Biden over your preferred candidate. All four states have Republican-dominated legislatures, who this suit proposes should overrule the will of the voters and choose electors committed to keeping Trump as president. The suit claims that the executive and judiciary branches of these four states overstepped their constitutional authority by making it easier for their citizens to vote using methods that bypassed their respective legislative processes.

Given the lack of any other states named in the suit, I take it you must believe there are no similar constitutional issues related to any executive or judicial ruling in the other forty-six states. Not Alabama’s emergency declaration signed by its Secretary of State. Not Arkansas’ Secretary of State who determined fear of COVID-19 was sufficient reason to request an absentee ballot.

Why was this suit filed so late in the process? The “grave constitutional issues” arose before the election, often months before the election. Yet only now, after fifty other legal challenges to the election results have failed to provide Trump the victory he claims, after all fifty states have certified their election results based on their state laws, has the Attorney General of Texas taken this extraordinary step, and only now, have you found the votes cast for and against you in the state of Michigan to be constitutionally invalid.

The executive orders and judicial decisions were not executed under a cloak of darkness and only recently brought to light. They are public documents you can find online. They had to be transparent so those charged at local levels with running the election could implement them. Many of these orders occurred in the summer of 2020, three or four months prior to the election. And yet, you and your cohorts found no egregious constitutional issues to challenge when there would have been time for states and voters to find other ways to exercise their right to vote.

Look in your heart, Congressman Bergman. This isn’t upholding the constitution. This is an attempt to disenfranchise just enough voters to overthrow the presidential election. Designed to keep Republican power after the people have voted some of it out of office, this is an attempted political coup. Your support stains your prior service in the marines; it stains the oaths you have taken to uphold the constitution; it stains our precious and now precarious democracy.

Admitting errors is never easy, especially when President Trump, the leader of your political party, excoriates any who displease him. Yet, if you do not want your legacy to include traitor to your country, you must repudiate your support of this political coup.

James M. Jackson
Amasa, Michigan