Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter to the editor

Here's the text of a letter to the editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press that I emailed today. I'll update this post if/when it's published.

Two in a row for Congresswoman Lois Capps. A few weeks ago, I applauded her vote to de-fund the National Security Agency's secret gathering of Americans' telephone calls. Hers was fine, high-principled vote and although (for now) the vote failed, as our representative in Congress, she truly and faithfully represented the wishes of her constituents. Good for her; good for us.

Well, Congresswoman Capps has done it again. On August 29, she, along with fifty-nine other Congressional Democrats, co-signed a letter authored by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and directed to President Obama, calling on him to submit the question of the use of force in Syria to Congressional inquiry, debate and decision. The letter, while acknowledging the severity of the situation in that embattled nation, was unequivocal in asserting the responsibility of Congress to authorize military force in foreign nations, a responsibility expressly reserved to Congress in the Constitution.

The recent unilateral war-making by our presidents must come to an end. While they are commanders-in-chief of our armed forces when engaged in conflict, the threshold decision to use destructive force in a foreign country is not the president's. The framers of the Constitution understood that such a step was so important that it required discussion and debate – traditional tools of democracy by which the citizenry, not a single person, decides the fate of the nation.

Congresswoman Capps understands this, and understands that her constituents do too. She deserves a salute for that understanding and her actions in accord with it.