By Roberta Millstein
I have heard mixed reactions to Representative John Garamendi’s overflowing town hall event on Sunday evening. Some were pleased with his liberal approach, especially with respect to immigration, which is understandably on people’s minds. These people praised his voting record and were happy to see his emphasis on eliminating gerrymandering and voter suppression as long term strategies.
Others were frustrated that he seemed always to stop just short of where he needed to be. I count myself in the second camp.
I think Representative Garamendi did fine under the Obama administration and would have done find under a Clinton administration, even if his votes and actions would not always have been what I wanted. But under a Trump administration, his approach is inadequate for the task at hand.
As Senator Richard Blumenthal has so eloquently stated, “Our nation is careening toward a constitutional crisis,” with President Trump’s foot on the accelerator. Trump has shown a “profound disrespect for an independent judiciary and the Constitution”; “his comments are an attempt to destroy the courts’ credibility and capacity to serve as a check on lawless executive action.”
He has also show a complete disinterest in working with Democrats.
These are not times for small actions – speeches on the floor of the House, posts to Facebook, legislation that nibbles around the edges. These are times for bold actions.
Here are the questions that I wanted to ask Representative Garamendi, but was not able to (he had far more questioners than he could respond to):
“Representative Garamendi, given the very real threats to our democracy, what are you prepared to do beyond the sorts of things that you have been doing already? Will you stand and protest with us? Will you band together with other Democrats and issue big, bold statements? (And no, the weekly C-SPAN presentations you mentioned do not count!).
“Will you think outside of the box, as Representative Jerrold Nadler did when he called for a ‘resolution of inquiry’ to obtain information relating to any criminal or counterintelligence investigation into Trump, any investment made by a foreign power or agent thereof in Trump’s businesses, Trump’s plans to distance himself from his business empire, and any Trump-related examination of federal conflict of interest laws or the emoluments clause of the Constitution?
“Note that Representative Nadler has made the national news with this action, so it is possible, contra to what you suggested at the town hall, to break through to the media with a message different from Trump’s own. Do you support what Representative Nadler has done? If his measure comes to the floor of the House, will you vote in favor of it?”
I wish I had gotten answers to these questions. Perhaps you will still see fit to answer them, or perhaps to answer them through your actions, which would be even better.
On Sunday, I heard instead an extended explanation about the limitations you face as a Democrat in a Republican-controlled Congress.
Everything you say is true. We want you to fight anyway. We are there to fight with you. But we need you to be bolder. Be bolder for us, Representative Garamendi.
I do not think I exaggerate when I say that our Democracy depends on you and other members of Congress doing exactly that.