Dear Senator Baldwin,
I appreciate a Senator looking at all sides of an issue before making a decision. After all, the Senate is supposed to be the more deliberative body. But your words at Fighting Bob Fest on Saturday seemed like equivocation to me. I understand you may have been rattled by progressives protesting you at a progressive event where you likely felt safe and wouldn’t have your views questioned.
But that is one of the differences between the left and the right. On the left we don’t blindly follow someone or support them because of a party label or past history. We hold our own to the fire as much as we hold others accountable. I voted for Barack Obama and I voted for you, but that doesn’t mean that I will support either one of you leading us into unnecessary military action.
While you steadfastly refused to answer a young man about whether you were going to vote yes or no on the Syria question you quoted the famed anti-war speech that Senator Bob LaFollette delivered to explain his no vote on the question of our entry into World War I. After your speech The Progessive editor, Matt Rothschild, pointedly suggested that by reading from that speech you must have been telling us that you plan to vote your conscience and the will of the people. I only hope that your conscience aligns with the will of the people. As you saw when those in attendance were asked to stand if they opposed attacking Syria most of the people stood. Later, when our Congressional Representative Mark Pocan clearly stated he would vote no there was a very loud ovation. The people you represent do not want our military to engage in yet more actions in yet more places. We are already stretched too thin with wars in places where we don’t belong.
There are many reasons not to attack Syria. I don’t need to enumerate them for you. You have probably heard all of them already and you have probably also heard classified information that the rest of us don’t have. You are getting pressure from all sides on the issue, including from the President who is the de facto leader of your party. But if you want to be a leader you have to lead; you cannot wait for the weather report to figure out which way the wind blows and then stand where you will be most protected. A previous Democratic President, John F. Kennedy, was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for writing Profiles in Courage, a book about politicians who did the right thing morally even at the risk of their political lives. You need to take a principled and courageous stand on this issue. If you don’t your soul will die as certainly as those bodies lost to the bloodshed of war. You will also lose the support of many of those who have stood by you, voted for you, and fought for you to get where you are today.
Please do consider all the options. Please do ask President Obama the tough questions you said you will ask. Ask him why we have to handle this with military action. Ask him why we are not considering other options. Ask him for definitive proof–not great likelihoods–about what happened. Ask yourself if his answers are satisfactory. Ask yourself if his answers were coming from George W. Bush whether you would feel the same. This is not about party politics. It is not about protecting America. It comes down to looking for a different way to handle our world issues than to immediately think we must support our weapons manufacturers by using their products on innocent civilians in faraway lands. It is time for us to blaze a new way of peace as we try to salvage the earth and its inhabitants. You can either take the way of supporting the old military-industrial complex and responding with military might or you can be one of the leaders in forging a new way into a better future. Please consider all the information you have, vote wisely, and vote no.