August 7, 2017 • BLOG ENTRY

Calling Jiminy Cricket


My fellow constituents sharing their opinion with Rep. Lance at his town hall meeting in Branchburg, NJ (attribution: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Last week I attended a town hall hosted by my Congressman, Leonard Lance. It was the third one I attended this year. I leave each one having absolutely no idea what he stands for despite the fact that he has been an elected official for 26 years. Last night was no different.

The theme of Lance’s response to almost every question was, “I vote my conscience.” And I could get behind that answer if I had any idea what his conscience told him to do.

When pressed on his stand on the environment, Lance stated that he believed in climate change and that humans played a role. Yet, he voted to repeal the stream protection rule, thus allowing industries to dump their waste in or near our waterways. Lance’s voting record has earned him a 17% rating from the League of Conservation Voters (this is up from his previous years: 13%, 11%, and 6%). That doesn’t sound like he’s listening to his conscience. It sounds more like he’s listening to the Koch brothers, Paul Ryan and Donald Trump.

And what is Rep. Lance’s conscience telling him with the last two weeks of announcements coming out of the White House?

First, there was the President’s tweet that brave transgender Americans would be barred from serving in the military. Fifty-six retired generals and admirals immediately came out against the ban, arguing it would be disruptive and degrade military readiness. Most analysts think the ban was an effort to make more room in the budget for Trump’s Wall. What did Rep. Lance’s conscience urge him to do while the President tweeted out a statement that was cruel, discriminatory and unpatriotic? Apparently, it told Rep. Lance to remain silent.

Then there was the amicus brief filed by the DOJ stating that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not protect members of the LGBTQ community. The ACLU blasted the DOJ’s position. Leonard Lance, who repeatedly hides behind the ACLU to explain his vote to allow those with mental illness to own guns, did what his conscience told him: He did not say a word.

Last week, President Trump announced a new immigration policy, the RAISE Act, intended to bar non-English speaking immigrants from legally entering the US. My own grandparents fled Eastern Europe to escape religious persecution, neither of them spoke English when they arrived. They met and married in Syracuse, NY, where they were able to buy a home and raise three children. My uncle went on to become a skilled surgeon and medical school professor. My mother attended Cornell and became a public school teacher and later a guidance counselor. And now I’m running for Congress. Maybe that’s why Rep. Lance’s conscience told him to sit this one out.

And finally, there is the complete waste of limited resources being used to fight so-called discrimination against white students applying to college. Statistics do not back up this claim of white discrimination; in fact, at top-tier schools, black representation has actually fallen in recent years. Surely, Leonard Lance’s conscience told him that this is a waste of taxpayer money and an underhanded attempt to further keep minorities from achieving the American Dream? Oh, wait, it didn’t.

Maybe it’s time Leonard Lance stopped listening to his conscience and started listening to his constituents.