Cannonball…

I am on the mailing list for Senator Marco Rubio, since I am one of his constituents and feel a need to be informed about his actions.  His organization recently sent an email stating they were behind their first quarter fundraising goal and soliciting donations.  I decided to write a response.  It is posted below.

Senator Marco Rubio (or whoever will receive this message on his behalf):

Perhaps you are not meeting your quarterly goal because of your actions when Rex Tillerson was going through his confirmation hearing or your support of Betsy DeVos, a donor to you.  You expressed reservations but ultimately sided in favor of both.  New Attorney General Jeff Sessions is another example of supporting an executive branch leader who will potentially hurt your constituents.  We are seeing this.  Your constituents are watching.

I follow you because you are my democratically elected senator, but unfortunately, you have yet to represent me on a single issue, confirmation hearing, or vote.  I understand that I am one person in the third most populous state in the nation.  I also know my viewpoints are not shared by all.  I know that I will not always agree with your perspective or politics.  I simply ask that you hold town hall sessions to listen to your constituents, all of them (I encourage Senator Bill Nelson to do the same).  Even though I did not vote for you, you do still represent me, not just those who voted for you.  I still listen to what you have to say because it is extremely important to listen to ALL sides, as much as I may disagree.  Please do the same.

I greatly appreciated the opportunity to provide feedback on Supreme Court Justice Nominee Neil Gorsuch.  I implore you to keep doing this.  Paraphrasing your own speech to the Senate after Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked Rule 19, debate is vital to our democracy and it is becoming more and more difficult as people entrench themselves.  May I suggest that you take this a step further and encourage real, authentic dialogue?  This would require people to be vulnerable in ways that would make our leaders more open to criticism and more open to actually fixing problems, in bipartisan ways, that affect the people you serve.  If you are looking for more information on this topic, I highly suggest the book by David Bohm, On Dialogue.

There are no perfect solutions to the imperfect problems that plague us.  However, we have to work towards solutions.  This requires listening to people who do not agree with us to make sure we understand the situation to its fullest extent.  It requires using factual information to come to logical conclusions and suspending politics where data supports a differing viewpoint.  It requires getting in the trenches and doing the difficult work of reaching across the aisle and looking for the best possible solution and not the most partisan one.  It requires vulnerability.  It means one may need to put their own political future on the backburner to further resolutions that are in the best interests of the people and not lobbyists or donors.

Perhaps more importantly, it requires people to approach these complex issues through an ethic of care.  An ethic that centers the people, and not the laws.  And centering of people does not simply mean those who voted for you.  It means ALL people that you represent.  It means centering the most vulnerable, and not the most affluent.  It necessitates perspective taking and empathy.

Whether you read this, or not, I value the opportunity to express to you my views and thoughts, a cornerstone of our democracy.  I do not anticipate a response, and that is perfectly fine with me.  All I can hope is that someone will see this, read it, and reflect on it.

Thank you in advance for your time.

Sincerely,

–Justin Sipes

Jacksonville, FL 32207

I know that this caters to respectability politics.  Niceness = Whiteness.  That does not miss me, and that will be upsetting to people.  I have many privileges that protect me from the many harmful policies that could [are anticipated and have started to] come down based on recent executive branch confirmations.

I don’t know the perfect way to respond, act, and resist in these uncertain times.  I am doing what I can, with what I got, when I can.  I am doing my best to keep up with everything and speak up when I can.  I start everyday reading almost a dozen news stories to try and stay abreast.  Every day it seems like something new, and I am left with not quite knowing what I can do, if anything.

For the vast majority of my life I have avoided politics, so this is all new to me.  In the last year, I have tried to educate myself on various issues and stay informed.  I have not spoken out about everything.  I have picked and chosen when I feel I should say something.  I have stayed out of the fray.  I realize I don’t have that option anymore.  I have to be more vocal.  This letter and tweets are dipping my toe into political pool.  It is becoming clearer these methods are not enough.  It is going to require a cannonball.

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About Justin Sipes

Learner Input Strategic Achiever Analytical
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