When Your Member of Congress Fails You, Vote None of the Above

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 30: Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, attends a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in Rayburn Bu
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 30: Reps. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, attends a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in Rayburn Building, September 30, 2015. Legislation addressed included the 'North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015' and the 'Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act of 2015.' (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Once upon a time, this great nation welcomed refugees and immigrants by the thousands. Great-grandparents on both sides of my family came to this country in search of better lives. A hundred years ago, they faced plenty of discrimination (if not outright abuse), but they raised our family to be contributing members of society. Eastern Europeans -- and more specifically, Jews -- were one of the "Syrians" of the day, mistrusted and feared by many "native" Americans.

Well before Donald "Someone's Doing the Raping" Trump, plenty of others have stated any number of silly things about immigrants and refugees. But the recent vote in the US House of Representatives on HR 4038, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, is a disgrace to the 47 Democrats who voted for it and should be nothing short of appalling to the friends and family of every American does not originate here -- which, by my calculations, means everybody except Native Americans.

Now, it's not surprising that Congress would do something disgraceful or appalling -- that's why their popularity tends to hover at 10-14 percent. My own Congressman is a very nice fellow named Dave Loebsack, a college professor who rode the Democratic wave into office in 2006 by beating a 15-term veteran, Jim Leach, whom many considered a good guy. Congressman Loebsack -- or Dave, as he likes to go by -- is not the greatest politician, which is definitely not a bad accusation in today's hyper-political environment.

Given Dave's "aw-shucks" approach, it was more than a little surprising six months ago to see that he voted to gut some of the provisions of Dodd-Frank, a signature piece of Democratic legislation. He even told me when we bumped into each other how he figured that many people in our home district were not happy with him because of that vote. But my surprise at that vote pales in comparison to the shock, disappoint, and even shame of Congressman Loebsack's vote this week supporting right-wing Republican efforts to stop the few Syrian refugees being allowed into the United States from finding safety from their imploading land.

The United States has a tremendously rigorous process to admit refugees, one that requires jumping many bureaucratic hoops over the course of many, many months. Since 9/11, roughly three quarters of a million refugees have been admitted to our country; less than five individuals have had ties to terrorism. But the reaction to the current refugee crisis that we are seeing from politicians and sadly, our fellow citizens, has nothing to do with facts. It has everything to do with fear.

An America of fear -- whether driven by misinformation, ignorance, or racism -- is neither the America I grew up in nor love. This is America at its worst: an America that imprisoned its fellow countrymen for being of Japanese or German decent; an America that turned away Jews on the SS St Louis so that half of them could be slaughtered in concentration camps. This is an American reacting from a place of emotional weakness, and Congressmen Loebsack voted for it.

Over the years, I have supported Dave by voting for him in every election and occasionally donated to his campaigns not much, but something. The bottom line is that while I did not always agree with him, I always believed that in his heart of hearts, Dave and I shared a common set of Democratic values. After the vote this week, I am confident that Dave does not hold my Democratic values -- and I have serious doubts that he holds any American values at all. I will be hoping that a true Democrat runs against Dave in his primary, and in that event, they will have my vote and support. Since nothing thrills me more than voting, I refuse to let Dave's reprehensible vote stop my voting. Just because Dave has chosen to abandon his values does not mean I will do the same -- in fact his actions will encourage me to write in "None of the Above." Perhaps others can try the same -- let's see what we can change together.