For the most part, I’ve obtained the videos presented here at FDL by approaching Representatives as they make their three-minute walk from their office to the Capitol. A few almost always find a way to make time for me. Others suddenly find that they’ve forgotten to make a very pressing phone call. Some are just in such a rush to get to a “very important meeting” or to cast their vote that they cannot collect their thoughts sufficiently to answer the simplest of questions. . . Questions like: “Will you vote for a bill if it has a triggered public option?” and “Does the Baucus plan for co-ops meet the standard you had in mind when you pledged to vote against any bill that did not contain a robust public option?”
One other response that comes with a certain amount of regularity is “Oh, I’d love to talk about this. Call such-and-such in my office to set something up. . .” I usually respond with, “OK, I will. Will you direct such-and-such to schedule some time for us?” And then I’m told one of two things, “Yes,” or, “Just call such-and-such and we’ll see what we can do.” Of course, the latter is a blow-off, but the former I take as a commitment.
So, it is frustrating when staffers working for Representatives that have promised me time – especially those Representatives that have enjoyed and benefited from FDL support – are less than responsive to my follow-up interview requests. I mean, if you cannot trust the word of a Congressman or Congresswoman, well, Progressive politics just cannot work. And these Representatives need to know as much.
I’m not asking for a kidney. These folks aren’t expected to sacrifice their first born upon an altar to FDL. Hell, we didn’t punish anyone for voting the wrong way in the past on important issues like the war supplemental. In fact, we’ve even rewarded good behavior, and simply asked for answers when we see behavior we don’t understand. In short, we’ve been good, engaged, informed and responsible citizens. What we need are responsive and accountable leaders.
I’m on the Hill virtually every day Congress is in session. I know these folks are busy. I know they are “Very Important People.” Of course they cannot accept every single meeting request that passes across their desk.
But, I have to wonder, how many of them have bumped a lobbyist for Humana, or Bank of America, or Lockheed Martin to make time for citizen-driven work like the kind being done by FDL?
Instead of calling out the unresponsive by name, tonight I want to give credit where credit is due. Jared Polis and Mike Capuono have each acted in ways that concerned those of us working on health care here at FDL. Each one of them immediately manned-up and sat down with me for an interview. Those videos are posted in this entry. So, if these guys can sit with me and take responsibility for their votes or remarks, why can’t our health care champions – folks that we believe are on our side – why can’t they sit down with us for a few minutes? Why am I forced to talk with them on the sidewalk and in office hallways?
To be clear, the following list is NOT a list of Representatives fleeing accountability. It is a list of Representatives that I’d like to interview this week. I’ll be in touch with their schedulers, press secretaries and communication directors, asking for interviews. I’ve been working on this all day today and I’ll continue throughout the day tomorrow. My advice to FDLers is to note which Representatives make time for us. Consideration is a two-way street and the offices that respect you and your support, in this man’s humble opinion, are the folks most deserving of your support.
Rush Holt, Mary Jo Kilroy, Eric Massa, Albio Sires, Lloyd Doggett, Jim McDermott, Gerald Connolly, Paul Hodes, Jackie Speier, Donna Edwards, James McGovern, Linda Sanchez, Phil Hare, John Yarmuth, Chellie Pingree, Andre Carson, John Lewis, Anna Eshoo, Loretta Sanchez, Hank Johnson, Peter Stark, Robert Wexler, Emanuel Cleaver, Gregorio Sablan, Corrine Brown, Corrine Brown, Alcee Hastings, Barbara Lee, Barney Frank, Bennie Thompson, Bill Delahunt, Bill Pascrell, Bob Filner, Carolyn Kilpatrick, Carolyn Maloney, Chaka Fattah, Dennis Kucinich, Diane Watson, Donald Payne, Earl Blumenauer, Ed Towns, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Elijah Cummings, Emanuel Cleaver, Grace Napolitano, Gwen Moore, Jerry Nadler, Jesse Jackson, Jr., John Conyers, John Olver, John Tierney, Jose Serrano, Judy Chu, Laura Richardson, Lucille Roybal-Alard, Luis Gutierrez, Lynn Woolsey, Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Maurice Hinchey, Maxine Waters, Mazie Hirono, Mel Watts, Michael Honda, Nydia Velázquez, Peter DeFazio, Robert Wexler, Sheila Jackson Lee, and William Lacy Clay.