An Open Letter to Lisa Murkowski
By Elstun Lauesen
Dear Senator Murkowski,
Congratulations. You made history. You persuaded 10s of thousands of Democrats and Independents who otherwise would have voted for Scott McAdams to write you in. We will see what the final count is, but it appears that your margin is substantial and may well carry you forward for another six-year term.
One of the persistent arguments that we heard from your supporters during the campaign was that you were going to be independent, because the Party leadership ‘threw you under the bus’ (though it is difficult to see how supporting the nominee of the primary election justifies the bus-tread cliché, but for the purpose of this letter, I will go with it).
In case you missed it, one of your supporters, pollster/pundit Ivan Moore put it better than I can in an open letter to you in last week’s Press:
“…it’s probably appropriate now to consider where your loyalties should lie for the next term.”
Moore argues that she certainly doesn’t ‘owe’ Mitch McConnell; nor does she owe the Right-Wing base of the Party who rejected her.
“No, I’ll tell you whom you owe your loyalty to. To people like my wife, a life-long, pro-choice liberal Democrat who had real heartburn voting for you, who agonized over it for weeks, but who went in and wrote in your name and filled in the bubble anyway… you owe your loyalty…to her and to countless other left-leaning and moderate voters…”
During a press conference a few years ago, Don Young refused to answer questions related to investigations into his behavior in congress. A Daily News reporter challenged him by saying that he owed answers to his constituents. “You’re not a constituent of mine” Young exploded and then added: “Did you vote for me?” The reporters laughed and said “no” at which point Young said “well then your not a constituent.”
Obviously, unless you are Don Young, a constituent is anybody who lives in a constituency whether or not they vote for you. You will soon be the Senator for All Alaska, including me, a Scott McAdams supporter. I know you are leaving soon for Washington DC to hold a fundraiser to help pay for your legal costs of the write-in challenges. Here are some things to consider before you make commitments in exchange for support.
The 62% of Alaska that are not the Right-Wing political base will be looking for signs that you are a truly independent Senator. Here are five things you can do right now to establish your independence.
1. Pledge to work on Policy not Politics. As you know, Mitch McConnell put the defeat of President Obama as the top priority for Senate Republicans over the next two years. We want to know that that is not YOUR top legislative priority over the next two years.
2. Pledge to work on Campaign Finance Reform. Citizens United has opened the floodgates of anonymous corporate spending into the election process. It seems that the Supreme Court didn’t understand the impact of their decision. Remember during the State of the Union address when Justice Alito mouthed “Not True” to President Obama’s comment that Citizens United could open the domestic politics to the influence of foreign money? Well, 6 months later, the Chamber of Commerce was directing funds collected overseas to aggregators like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The President was right; Justice Alito was wrong. It’s time for campaign finance reform.
3. Pledge to support Filibuster Reform. Incoming Republican Dan Coates of Indiana has committed to reforming the current rule that prevents legislation from coming to a vote unless there are 60 votes for cloture. This has been a tool for the horrible obstructionism of the last two years and it needs to be reformed;
4. Pledge to be part of the Bipartisan Working Group. Someone other than the Republican women from Maine has got to demonstrate an ability to collaborate on the most important issues of our time;
5. Get back to work on global warming. Remember during the debates when you said that you respected and worked with Senator Bingaman? That was when you were working on limiting carbon emissions. The oceans are rising; some villages are washing into the sea. You got their votes, now they deserve your support.
If you take actions like this, you will take some real steps toward addressing the skepticism and division your write-in left in its wake.