Messrs. Boehner and Cantor: Stop claiming you speak for me.

Dear Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Cantor:

Please stop pretending that you speak for me, and the approximately half of the citizenry who vehemently disagree with you. Both of you, and especially Mr. Boehner, have developed the fiction of prefacing a statement of your beliefs with the phrases, “The American people want [or don’t want],” or “The American people believe [or don’t believe].” Your use of those words rings hollow, and is a fiction that attempts to justify your positions on issues. It is an unjustifiable habit. First, you were not elected by a majority of the American people. In fact, each of you ran in a congressional district that represents a small fraction of the electorate. On average, we might say that your district represents 1/435th of the people, ignoring the population discrepancy between districts in heavily populated states and that in the sparsely populated ones. You then attained your leadership positions in the House by a vote of your party’s representatives. But had we, the general population, been offered the opportunity to select the leaders of Congress, we might have chosen someone else. Alas, Congress is a representative body based on geographical division of the country, and the only federal position upon which we all vote, albeit indirectly, is the Presidency. So, if anyone claims to be able to speak on behalf of the American people, it would be the current president, who at least won a majority of the popular vote. But I will acknowledge right here that there are plenty who voted for Mr. McCain or other candidates who would prefer that Mr. Obama not claim to speak for them.

Let me go further. When you state that the American people believe this or that, you truly offend me. Nearly everything you say is in direct opposition to my deeply held beliefs. Mr. Cantor is especially grievous in his statements. As but one example, he is solicitous to the attentions of the so-called Tea Party, whose members in 2009 engaged in rowdy public behavior while exercising their First Amendment rights, and who were as divisive as anyone in their hijacking of town hall meetings and in their carrying of truly offensive signs; yet this week you lambasted the mostly peaceful “Occupy Wall Street” protesters as setting American vs. American. It is you, sir, who sets American vs. American.You insist that despite years of unwavering support for the unfunded wartime spending of President Bush, now we must cut dollar for dollar for any spending on our own needs, including that needed to ameliorate the suffering of those in your own district. It is you who joins in the efforts of a party that has as its modus operandi the delegitimizing of any Democratic president. It is you, sir, whose party created the “Southern Strategy,” the deliberate pitting of white vs. black. It is you and your colleagues who were (and apparently remain) eager to risk the financial foundation of our country to achieve dishonorable ends. Your claiming to speak for me is a slander of my good name.

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