Call your reps and keep calling

To the editor:

On March 4, our U.S. senator, Gary Peters, spoke to a standing-room-only group of Copper Country folk about what’s going on in Washington, D.C. He was eager to answer our questions, and he graciously, patiently shared his knowledge and opinions.

Sen. Peters said he had never seen Americans more aroused, and he encouraged citizens to keep up the pressure, contacting elected officials.

We should also recruit good people to run for office in the future. Before the November election, some positions were vacant or uncontested, and despite the efforts of the League of Women Voters and our Daily Mining Gazette to inform us, many candidates did not share their opinions with citizens.

Sen. Peters is the only person I know who has read the entire Affordable Care Act, which is thousands of pages long. He noted things he would change. Like all bills, it was a compromise and could be improved. Then, once the bill had become law in 2009, he mustered the courage to stand in front of town hall meetings (“1,800 people inside the building shouting at me, and another 1,800 clamoring to get inside to shout at me”) and tell his constituents that he had voted for the bill because it would save lives. “I’d never done anything more significant in my life,” he told us. He stuck to his values then, and he continues to do so today.

Money has corrupted our politics, especially since the Supreme Court equated money with free speech in the “Citizens United” decision. Many good people are working on a law that would, at the very least, force candidates to disclose the source and size of donations to their campaigns. Other people are tackling gerrymandering, and here in Michigan we will have the opportunity to ensure that districts represent voters fairly. For more information, check out this website:

It is easy to become cynical or overly zealous. Withdrawing from politics is just as harmful to our republic as is vitriolic, unproductive shouting. Good governance involves getting the facts, engaging in civil discussion, and communicating with elected officials. I am grateful for responsible, hard-working public servants like our Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, and I pass along Peters’ message to all citizens: If you care about our environment, immigration policy, schools, health care, etc., call your representatives. And keep calling!

Carolyn Peterson