Sunday, August 26, 2007

Getting to Know You

Had an interesting telephone conversation with my state representative today. He actually called me. Well, no, he really called and asked for my husband, who wasn't home. Then he said that he only had the names of my husband and older son as registered voters living at our address, and that if there were any other eligible voters residing here, he'd get them registered if I gave him their information. In other words: I don't seem to have your name on the list, ma'am. Well, I said, you mean you don't have ____________ (my last name, different from my hubby's) on your list? I vote in every election. I voted in the last one. Oh...he said a bit embarrassed ... yes, here it is. My apologies, it was on the last name on the previous page. (Of course, as my last name begins with the letter the just preceding the letter my husband's last name begins with).... Thus we established our mutual identities.

He asked if there were any issues I was particularly concerned about or anything he could help me with. Well, in spite of the fact that this was a state representative, and thus unable to do very much about any national issues, I figured, what the heck! I have an elected official on the phone! So I launched into my concern about our country's practice of torture, told him about the local interfaith advocacy group we had formed...the movie The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, and how NRCAT is sponsoring screenings during the month of October. And imagine: the rep actually attends services at one of the local churches where the film will be shown!

Are we planning to march on Washington soon, he asked. No, I replied, but told him about our lobbying visits. He strongly suggested that we pay a visit to the local office of our Washington representative. OK, I said, thinking to myself that he probably wouldn't be very interested. But we'll do it anyway.

The representative said how amazed he is at the range of subjects his constituents are interested in...

I also brought up military recruiting in the high schools, mandated by the infamous recruitment clause in the No Child Left Behind Act, which he agreed was not a praiseworthy practice.

To bring things a back to the state level, I said, how about the rise of gun deaths in the city of Philadelphia? We may live in "safe" suburb, but ... no burb is an island. Is there anything you can do in Harrisburg to make it possible for the city to pass a stronger ordinance to limit the purchase of handguns? (In case you're not aware, the state of PA has rather lenient gun laws and no city is permitted to make any law that is more stringent than the state law.) The representative agreed that the state legislature needs to give Philadelphia the constitutional power to pass a tougher gun law ...if they can get this past the rural folks, who are so afraid that their 2nd amendment rights might get a bit curtailed around the edges and that they won't be able to get all the hunting rifles they so desperately need.

We say we believe in God and in the rule of law. But what we really believe in is the power of firearms and other weapons of minor or mass destruction to protect us. Soon it will be the law of the jungle here.

Anyway, turns out the representative's office is right down the street. Is he ever going to be sorry he gave me his address! But seriously...a nice man to speak with. A very good listener. Made me feel a bit better about my elected least some of them.

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