Oct 122006

The following letter was faxed yesterday to the campaign headquarters of Senator Bill Nelson. Today, I received an email from the office manager there saying she intended to put the letter in his nightly reading box. Let me know what you think.

October 12, 2006

Hon. Bill Nelson
United States Senate
1011 E. Colonial Dr, STE 201
Orlando, FL 32803

Dear Senator Nelson:

I’ve been a proud Democrat since before I was old enough to vote. I’ve worked on several State Senate campaigns, and my father was a local elected official in my home state of North Carolina. I believe in most of the principles of the Democratic Party, and my pride in the accomplishments of the Party has not previously faltered.

Of grave concern to me is the recent power grab by the current Administration. The Bush-Cheney Administration has shown a total disregard for the constraints placed on government by the Constitution with everything from the “signing statements;” to the super-Constitutional PATRIOT Act; to the illegal wiretaps; to rendition; to this most recent Detainee Treatment bill.

The previous commander of the Gitmo Prison Camp was Col. Michael Bumgarner. He and I were close high school friends, and I was a member of his wedding party. Yet I’m ashamed to learn of the abuses of prisoners at Gitmo and at other secret camps around the world. It is difficult to remain proud to be an American. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.”

Business travel will have me out of town on Election Day, and while Diebold will probably not count my ballot, I sit here at my desk with my absentee ballot open conflicted about voting for you for U.S. Senate. Katherine Harris is an idiot, but you have cast several votes over the past years that have provided aid and comfort to the Bush-Cheney Administration in their power-grab, the most recent being your vote in favor of this Detainee Treatment Bill.

Along with Republicans, you have had your hands on the scissors cutting a hole in our Constitution. Perhaps the original should be moved from Washington and placed in safe keeping somewhere for the time being. (Maybe Canada would hang on to it for us until some responsible adults assume the reins of government in Washington.) 

Senator, I realize there are always political considerations, but as Thomas Jefferson said, “In matters of style, swim with the current; In matters of principle, stand like a rock.” There is no excuse for dissembling, and there is never any consideration that out-weighs the absolute protection of our founding principles.

The current Government (and I specifically include the acquiescent Congress), has committed almost every act cited in the Declaration of Independence as a grievance against King George and as grounds for independence. The list is long, and I am sorely disappointed that you have apparently placed political concerns above a reverence for the Constitution and the rights enshrined therein.

Some have made the claim the most recent Detainee Bill does not apply to American Citizens, but that is not true. It allows this government to declare anyone an “enemy combatant,” and then to spirit that person away without any due process. Surely, you do not honestly believe this Administration is above using these powers to silence dissent? Regardless, the argument that it affects only non-citizens carries not logical weight. No less than Thomas Paine said, “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.” This is the basic principle enshrined in the Magna Carta.

Also, you voted for a Bill that specifically makes it illegal to challenge the Constitutionality of the Bill itself. In section 950j. the bill criminalizes any challenge to the legislation’s legality by the Supreme Court or any United States court. “No court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever, including any action pending on or filed after the date of the enactment of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions under this chapter.”

As has been said before, fascism does not arrive in long black coats and jackboots, but quietly it sneaks in during the night. Like never before, I fear for the future of the Republic, and I am gravely concerned that you are now voting in favor of its dissimilation.

As I said, my ballot literally lays here in front of me, and while I realize you are busy with a campaign, this is one vote you are going to have to re-earn. You, or someone on your staff, is going to have to offer me a reason why I should trust my future to you. I look forward to hearing from you in time for me to complete my ballot.

I’m kind of proud it made the cut to be handed to the Senator.

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