The Congressional election in November 2014 was, in effect, a massive Republican landslide that gave the GOP a numerical majority in the Senate and expanded their majority in the House. The only virtue is that the Senate is controlled only by a simple majority and NOT by a filibuster-proof majority which would imply deadly consequences.
Here in Colorado, the liberal-progressive Senator Mark Udall (son of last century’s Arizona liberal-progressive Rep. Morris Udall) was defeated by a relatively unknown former Colorado (4th district, rural/eastern Colorado) Congressman, Cory (not Chauncy) Gardner. Gardner was a typical right wing candidate. He was anti-abortion and pro- “personhood”; he voted 50 times in the House to repeal the ACA; he supported the proposed secession by five rural Colorado Counties along with their goal of forming a 51st state that would be free of left wing politics; he was financially supported by the Tea Party and was at one time designated the tenth most conservative Republican in the House. Gardner managed to defeat Udall in the 2014 mid-term, an election which saw low voter turnout both nationwide as well as in Colorado — where the voter turnout was the lowest in 70 years.
The Senate reconvened in January, and ever since I’ve been following its (predicted) inaction, and in the process have communicated with my new Senator on issues which deeply concern me, all via appropriate petitions issued by groups to whom I pay special attention. I do this for two reasons: (1) to add one more voice to said issues, and (2) to see what response, if any, I might get from Senator Gardner.
Following are text excerpts from four Gardner replies [all highlights and underlines my own], each sent via (staff-generated) email, on issues concerning wildlife protection (specifically wolves), land preservation (specifically via the Antiquities Act), the Netanyahu-Iran issue, and the Cotton ‘open letter’ to the Iranian government. Note that Gardner’s right wing political philosophy as well as his presumed legislative priorities are clearly evident and in plain view for all to see and read.
February 13 2015; Subject: Wolf Protection
“Colorado has been blessed with great natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife, including occasional populations of wolves. Wolves are rarely found in Colorado and according to the Division of Wildlife, these animals are most likely to be seen in the western part of the state.
“While avoiding extinction is important, it is also necessary to take into account agricultural losses that may impact working families as a result of predatory wolves in residential areas. At present, no legislation concerning wolves has been brought to the Senate floor for a vote in the 114th Congress.” [According to Defenders of Wildlife, “Recently, two bills were introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip wolves in four states, including Wyoming, of any protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).” It’s on its way, i.o.w.]
March 9 2015; Subject: Antiquities Act
“On January 21, 2015, Senator Mike Crapo introduced S. 228, the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation would limit the President’s ability to designate national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and make any such designation subject to Congressional approval. Additionally, S. 228 would require the state in which the monument is to be located to pass legislation authorizing the monument. This legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, on which I sit.
“The Antiquities Act has been used in Colorado to protect and preserve some historically significant places. Still, I am extremely skeptical of unilateral action by the President and believe that the American people deserve to be involved in determining what landmarks are most in need of protection.”
March 9 2015; Subject: Netanyahu and Iran
“On January 21, 2015, Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner (R-OH) invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on March 3, 2015. I attended the speech with many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I am a strong supporter of Israel. Israel is one of our strongest friends and allies, and our only democratic ally in an extremely volatile area of the world. As Israel faces continued threats from hostile nations, such as Iran, it is imperative that the United States support Israel in its right to self-defense and preservation.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized the threat that a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel and America, and made it clear that any deal that gives the Iranian regime a path to nuclear weapons is unacceptable. His clear-headed analysis of Iran as the world’s leading sponsor of terror dedicated to the destruction of Israel and America provides crucial context for ongoing negotiations. The United States must make the safety and security of our ally Israel a top priority of our foreign policy. We cannot allow the tentacles of terror the appearance of an opportunity to do harm to America and its allies.”
March 11 2015; Iran, and Cotton’s letter:
“(. . .) The leaders of Iran’s regime, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, need to know that no deal with the United States will be considered permanent without the approval of the Congress which is why I joined 46 other United States Senators in signing an open letter to the leaders of Iran regarding negotiations with the United States about their nuclear program. . . . The American people, through their representatives in Congress, will reject any deal that does not completely eliminate the threat of a nuclear Iran.
“I believe that Iran cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and additional action may be required to stop the progression of its nuclear program. On January 27, 2015, Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced S. 269, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2015. I am a cosponsor of this legislation . . . It is imperative that we do everything we can to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and from becoming nuclear-capable. We must also continue to provide all the support we can toward Israel. Standing by Israel is one of my top priorities in Congress.”
I’m sure I could write a series of multi-page rants on each of the topics listed above, and in the process point out the fallacies implicit that are invariably supported (even cheered) by the far right fascist movement in America. I’ll save those rants for another day, however, and simply restate here the thesis which should be of common knowledge: Elections do, indeed, have consequences. And when the far right political movement gains legislative control, the consequences quickly become SERIOUS. The far right political movement is, of course, the Reagan-inspired GOP that has today become concerned ONLY with acquisition of money and power, and in result cares NOTHING about the environment, about wildlife, about land preservation, even about historically-established international protocol. it’s the political movement that invariably sees war and combat as the ONLY solution to international disagreement, even as it leaves no stone unturned in its attempts to discredit or destroy the entire of its constitutionally loyal and “We the people” -oriented opposition. Oh, and if I read Gardner correctly, even Israel is of higher priority than (most of) Amurka. Right?
As Herr Gardner has so effectively illustrated, he is indeed one of ‘them’ and will undoubtedly work fervently — and, when the moment demands, seditiously — to thwart anything that is people- or environment-oriented, while at the same time he’ll surely work tirelessly to further enrich the already rich by any and all means possible, including yet another needless war. And “standing by Israel,” of course.