Which McMorris Rodgers?

Dear Group,

We return briefly to McMorris Rodgers’ two and a half page snail mail letter dated May 4, 2018 sent to most of her constituents in Congressional District 5. We discussed its divisive message on Tuesday.

Nearly half of the print on the first page of that letter is a dramatic endorsement of “Cathy…and the rest of her very helpful staff” for solving a vexing problem. The Social Security Disability payments for a constituent’s wife had ceased. McMorris Rodgers’ staff interceded with with Social Security bureaucracy to get the payments started again. It is a heartwarming story. But let’s put that in perspective: Such aid to constituents is an important part of the responsibility attached to the “Members Representational Allowance” of 1.3 million taxpayer dollars paid to the CD5 office holder. McMorris Rodgers’ staff are gracious and diligent in offering such aid. That’s what we pay them to do. Let’s thank them, but let’s also realize gracious help was offered constituents when Tom Foley was in office and will be next year when Lisa Brown represents us. It’s part of the job.

McMorris Rodgers’ heartwarming anecdote of assistance reminded me of the deference in which we are trained to hold elected Representatives, especially those who are supposed to represent us in faraway Washington, D.C. One hears that deference in the voices of mostly older folks in McMorris Rodgers’ flash telephone town halls. Many of the questions posed by her supporters are almost fawning, reminiscent of the relationship between child and parent, serf and lord. Often the tone is “you know so much more than I do” or “you’ve done so much to fix my problem with ______” (insert Social Security, the Veterans Administration, Medicare…) or “thank you for protecting this or that program.” Often this comes along with “Keep up the good work.”

Observe the disconnect. McMorris Rodgers has a local public face she projects through the fresh-faced, impeccably polite and helpful staff she has hired for her three CD5 offices using the “Members Representational Allowance.” When I first started visiting McMorris Rodgers’ offices after the Trump election, this staff, often interns, recent graduates, struck me as trying hard to be helpful, flawlessly polite and earnest….and remarkably clueless of the goings on in D.C. A question from me about Congressional procedure sent them to the internet to research sources I had already read. 

Their is a different face of McMorris Rodgers. It is the one she presents to the Republican faithful, the face she puts forward at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). There she granted an interview with a reporter from Breitbart where she unguardedly expressed her “excitement” about the “momentum” of the Republican agenda that rammed through the tax giveaway to corporations and the already wealthy (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), the repeal of the Individual Mandate (a hot poker shoved in the eye of universal health insurance under the ACA), and, perhaps best of all, the opening up of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and drilling. (For more analysis and the voice recording itself click here). 

On the one hand we have the helpful eastern Washington McMorris Rodgers projected through the diligence of her local staff and touted in her constituent letter. On the other we have the excited Washington, D.C. McMorris Rodgers who revels in kicking 23 million Americans off of health insurance, who speaks in excited terms of ripping open one of the last pristine places in the Arctic for the benefit of her and her Party’s corporate sponsors in the oil industry, the McMorris Rodgers who absolutely refuses to discuss the fiscal irresponsibility of her Tax Law, the McMorris Rodgers who says she wants to “reform” “entitlements” now that she has richly rewarded her wealthy sponsors at the expense of the national debt.

It is time the voters of eastern Washington realize there are two McMorris Rodgerses, the eastern Washington McMorris Rodgers who giveth to the wealthy and the D.C. McMorris Rodgers who taketh away from the support, the personal financial security, and the natural heritage of everyone else.

Keep to the high ground,