An Open Letter to the 116th Congress of the United States

To the incoming Democratic majority in the House of Representatives,

As you take your seats in the new Congress in the coming year, I implore you to consider your agenda carefully. You will have limited power, being part of a divided government. How you choose to use that limited power and the mandate that the people of this nation have given you will ring through both the corridors of power and the annals of history.

Please, do not waste that energy and opportunity investigating or trying to impeach–and it does still pain me to write these words–President Trump.

His supporters do not care that he is a liar. They do not care that he colluded with Russia. They do not care that he is corrupt. All they care about is that their interests are being served by this government.

So serve your constituents’ interests.

Take a page from Beto O’Rourke, that bold candidate who, were it not for 200,000 short-sighted Texans, would have been a new de facto leader in your party: Don’t work against anyone or anything.

Work for something.

Here is my suggestion. Here is the thing that I think you should whittle, harass, harangue, and pressure your Republican colleagues in the Senate to send to the president’s desk:

Let us begin an Apollo-scale project to address climate change and preserve our natural environment.

The Republicans want to support the economy, want to support economic growth. Good. Help them do that. Solar and other clean energy sectors are growing much more than oil exploration, which is everywhere in decline.

So let’s move every dollar of oil subsidies in the next budget to renewable energy.

Every. Single. Dollar.

The Republicans got their precious tax cut. Fine. Let them have it.

But they also claim to want fiscal responsibility, yet have opened up a cavernous maw of a budget deficit.

Help them close it. Propose a new source of revenue in place of the lost income and corporate tax revenue.

A carbon and pollution tax.

Yes, they will fight. Fight harder. Convince them that it’s actually good for business. It will create new industries and new technologies. Allow deferments for companies that immediately begin investing in R&D toward that end, but make the dirty industries pay for every toxin released into a river, for every molecule of greenhouse gas let slip into the atmosphere. Give incentives and even more tax breaks for companies that go zero waste or negative on emissions.

This is going to be the issue of the twenty-first century. History will thank you for finally shifting our national gaze toward it.

The Republicans and their share of the electorate are panicked over a few thousand desperate refugees from Honduras. How many more refugees will there be when the coastlines start disappearing around the world?

Polling suggests that healthcare was the number one issue for voters during these midterms. How much is our national health impacted by pollution and toxins and unregulated use of chemicals on our food, in our water, and in our air?

This issue is the issue they care about. They just don’t know it yet.

Convince them.

Fight the good fight.



Richard Helmling