A response to Rep. Jack Kingston

Georgia's Rep. Jack Kingston recently called anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan "a nutcase" and "a very flaky woman" according to reports posted on his blog. He issued an apology the following day. I sent the following screed to him that same day...

Good day to you, sir;

It was heartening to see your apology posted on your site regarding comments you made about Cindy Sheehan. I was the editor of the Haleakala Times in Hawaii when Ms. Sheehan lost her son, and was one of the first to publish her commentary on the war, before she became a media icon. I did so because her voice is not unique; she is most certainly not a nutcase or beatnik; I have heard far too many comments much like her original public statement from fathers and mothers of fallen soldiers. I heard many of the same comments during the Vietnam War, which compares to the invasion of Iraq only in its injustice and unnecessary deaths.

I'm writing to thank you for the posted apology, and I understand fully how emotions can drive us to saying hurtful things that we later regret – but I am also angry that your outburst will cause more damage to her reputation and her perceived character than your apology can ever repair. It was a disgraceful act, especially for an elected representative of the people. It seemed as if you felt those words to be true, but would not ordinarily have voiced them. If you believe that – if that is the truth about the way your mind works, then you have a responsibility to re-examine that way of thinking or to step down from public office.

As I'm not a resident of your state, much less your district, it will be easy for you to dismiss anything I have to say – if, in fact, you ever have the opportunity to read this message at all. I hope that you will take a moment to consider this opinion:

Our country has a government that functions poorly. The primary reason for that state of affairs is the antagonistic approach to governing that partisan politics has created. Your comments about Ms. Sheehan reflect the atmosphere in which they were spoken, but they also contribute to that atmosphere. I hope that you personally can rise above taking hard positions on issues whenever possible and return to the proper duties of an elected official – representing the myriad and diverse voices of your constituency in the most complete manner possible.

That means, to me, that your personal opinion on any issue is of no more value than any one of your constituents. Your job is to educate the residents of your district regarding an issue, determine the majority opinion and all minority opinions amongst them, then present all of those voices in debating the issue. Your final vote should reflect the desires of the majority of your constituency.

It's the only way to avoid the trap of partisanship and corruption that dominates national politics today. I urge you to seek a change of heart about your approach to representation, and lead the way for others to follow you back to the kind of representation that can find honest solutions to our society's most pressing problems.

One last comment - any vote for continued funding of military operations in Iraq is a wrong vote. I take that hard position because human beings are dying unnecessarily as a direct result of our government's involvement in Iraq. Innocent blood will be on our hands whether we stay in Iraq or not, and the longer we stay, the more blood will spill. Any resolution of that nightmare will come only when our military is fully withdrawn. Any vote to fund this invasion further sanctions the death of thousands of innocents. That is never acceptable, ever. It violates every principle that Christ taught. It is always wrong...

Thank you for taking the time to listen,
Rob Lafferty

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