Dear Senator Tillis,
I did not vote for you, but since you are now my senator, you are obliged not only to listen to me but to represent me. It would be easy to dismiss me because you won this race without my vote, so I would like to take a moment to remind you that you did not gain election through a majority, but merely a plurality. Indeed, because of this, please realize–and consider this deeply–that you now represent more than half of North Carolina who did not vote for you. Therefore, I would like to share with you where I stand on many of the issues I believe will be important during the next six years in which you are in office.
First, please do not repeal the Affordable Care Act. You and I are both reasonable persons, and I–as you do–recognize the ACA is not flawless. It is, after all, human-made, and nothing human-made can ever be flawless, for perfection lies exclusively to the hand of God (we can agree upon that at least, can we not?).
However, I believe passing the ACA was a step in the right direction for our country, and in spite of its flaws, to turn back this legislation–which has been law for nearly half a decade and has not even been entirely phased in yet–would be to undo all the work that our leaders have put forth so far. Indeed, the ACA brings with it many benefits–such as increased health coverage for dependent children, equal access to healthcare regardless of pre-existing conditions (which directly benefits members of my family who suffer from diabetes and other illnesses), and the inclusion of mental health provisions–long needed and especially important now as we fight to end the stigma of mental illness.
Furthermore, the ACA benefits refugee populations in our country and its focus on preventative measures will help ensure our country remains healthy and in fact becomes healthier over time. Yes, it is flawed, but to undo it would be a waste of the resources already spent putting it in place. What we need is not a complete upheaval of the law, but a revision upon it that will correct its flaws and bring it closer to an ideal system.
2. Gun Violence
Next, I would like to speak of gun control. I believe you support our right to bear arms, and believe me, so do I; however, I have grown weary of watching the news with the abundance of mass shootings and murders that could have been prevented with an appropriate law. I do not know what solution will stop these crimes; perhaps it is stricter gun laws, perhaps it is more resources spent enforcing those already on the books.
I believe we must strike a balance between our personal freedoms and protecting our children and other vulnerable groups from the violence often proliferated by gun owners. I ask you only to keep an open mind while considering this issue, and to vote in favor of life and the wellbeing of our communities rather than blind support of weaker gun regulation.
Immigration is also an issue facing the nation. It appears to me the current debate centers largely upon securing our borders, but I would like to suggest that this alone is not enough.
First, we must secure our borders, but that should not be the sole extent of our immigration reforms. Instead, we must look at the system in place–we must make it more efficient not only to save our government money in processing individuals, but to make the process easier so that there is less incentive for people entering our country to do so illegally rather than following the laws.
Next, we must realize immigration does not weaken our country, but makes it stronger–my family, and many others, would not be here today, in this great country of ours, if not for our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents making the journey here. It is time to set aside our fears for those who come from different cultures and background and welcome them wholly into our communities; just as they can learn from our experiences, we can learn from theirs and together build a richer, more vibrant and prosperous country.
Finally, our immigration policy must not stop at our borders; instead, we must look outward toward the struggles faced by those who are so desperate to leave their countries that they are willing to break the laws of this land to find refuge here. We must be cognizant of the causes that proliferate illegal immigration, and we must offer our aid to those countries who need it so that they may create a country from which their citizens will see no need to flee. I warn you, however, that this does not mean I advocate the United States rushing in to solve the world’s problems; instead, we must listen to other global leaders, understand their struggles as they see them, and provide the support they need to set right their countries. The world has become a partnership, and as in every partnership, the key to success is listening, reaching shared understanding, and working hand-in-hand to find equally beneficial solutions. I believe you are capable of this, as are all our elected leaders; we simply need a role model to lead the way.
4. Women’s Rights
I would be remiss to not mention women’s rights in this letter. Women comprise half our country, and regardless of your views on appropriate roles for women, every woman deserves the right to personal freedom, liberty, and privacy. This means eliminating the wage gap, providing access to both birth control and abortion, and protection from sex-based discrimination and harassment in all areas of their lives. We may have strong opinions on birth control and abortion, but who are we to dictate the personal decisions of another? In this land of freedom, we must ensure freedom belongs to every individual–whether we agree with their personal decisions or not.
5. LGBT Rights
Finally, I must ask you to safeguard–and in fact, come to embrace–the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in our country. I know this is a sensitive topic for you and that you disagree, on moral grounds, of accepting the LGBT community; however, I believe moral decisions must be held separate from legal decisions, and while I recognize and respect your right to opinions other than my own, I believe it is important that you uphold the protections of this minority.
Please do not threaten same-sex marriage; this is a state’s right best left to the states and the courts to decide–the federal government should serve no role in stating what is or is not a legal marriage. I must specify a legal marriage, mind you, because that is what we in same-sex relationships seek: the right to be legally married. There are some religious groups who will perform same-sex marriages and others who will not; that is not that battle we fight, for we understand each person’s faith in God and understanding of morality belongs only to that person, but as citizens in the country, we deserve equal protection under the law, regardless of how others may judge our morals.
Additionally, I implore you to support anti-discrimination measures for LGBT employees: Being a hardworking, contributing member of society is an important American value, and those pursuing this end should not be denied the right to work because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
You and I are very different people, with very different personal experiences, but as my senator, you and I are now intimately connected to each other–you represent me and my views, and those of my fellow community members, on the national stage, and this is a partnership we must foster now so that our time together for the next six years may be prosperous for both of us–indeed, so that it may be prosperous for the entire country we both so dearly cherish.
So please, Senator, heed my words and recognize that regardless of our differences in opinion, there is potential and opportunity to pursue compromise and legislation that will make our nation greater than it has ever been before.
I look forward to working with you.
Darren Lipman, your constituent