Dear Darcy

After having spent the past ten years residing in one of the most solidly Democratic districts in the state, I am pleased to be returning to the 8th at a time when you are running for U.S. Congress.  Although I expect to participate in my precinct's Democratic Party caucus, I am aware that your nomination is all but assured, a prospect that does not trouble me.  The choice between your candidacy and that of Congressman Reichert is simple and clear.

Nevertheless, I have a question.  In the year since the return of Congress to Democratic control after the 2006 election, the failure of the Democratic Congressional leadership to roll back or even contain the excesses of Bush’s erosion of civil liberties at home and arrogation of unilateral war-making powers abroad has left us with the dismaying choice between concluding that either the Democrats are too feckless to fight for democracy or they are too cynical to take any political risks prior to the 2008 election (or, perhaps, ever).  That there appears to have been no appreciable change in the Democrats’ behavior as they shifted from the minority to the majority challenges one’s faith in representative democracy.

The most recent and egregious example of this tendency was the revelation that Rep. Pelosi and other Democratic members of intelligence oversight committees were briefed on the CIA’s use of waterboarding in 2002 and did nothing to challenge it.  By accepting classified disclosures of illegal practices by the Bush Administration and failing to bring them to light is a dereliction of their Constitutional duty.  This is the political equivalent of regulatory capture.

Should you be elected next November, you will be a freshman member of a likely Democratic majority caucus in the House, and there may well be a Democrat in the White House.  You will be a female representative in a swing district, and you will be highly dependent upon senior Democrats (and Republicans) for assistance with legislation and fund-raising.  Running as someone from "outside the Beltway" is a tired cliche, and political naïveté is overrated.  Nonetheless, if you would like my vote, I should like you to state, clearly and unambiguously, if you think our national security interests require our government to engage in increased wiretapping and surveillance of American citizens, waterboarding and "enhanced interrogation" of suspected terrorists, military tribunals for "enemy combatants," or pre-emptive unilateral executive war-making (including cover operations).  I would also like to know what you envision your putative Constitutional duty to be were you to discover our government engaging in any such activities.

Thank you for your time.

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