Congresswoman Barbara Comstock owes her constituents an apology.
An apology for constantly voting along hardline, right-wing partisan lines, despite representing a district that twice voted for Obama, and voted overwhelmingly for Clinton in 2016. She has voted in line with Trump’s position on every bill that has come to the House floor since Trump’s inauguration.
An apology for refusing to host a town hall and engage in a two-way discussion with her constituents, despite an overwhelming desire from her constituents to schedule one.
An apology for subjecting her constituents to two tele-town halls that amounted to nothing more than an opportunity to re-state her favorite talking points, despite claiming a willingness to truly engage with voters. Instead, she fielded friendly, soft-ball questions and spoke at her constituents for nearly two hours, rather than speaking with her constituents.
An apology for the countless times she, or her staff have committed to meet with a voter to discuss their issues, and then bailed at the last minute, despite her claims that she’s always willing to meet with voters one-on-one, or in small groups.
An apology for refusing to publicly state how she’ll vote on #Trumpcare, which will directly impact her older and poorer constituents, despite being hours away from a possible vote on the House floor. Comstock has 46,000 constituents who rely on public health insurance, who could be devastated by the changes in funding for Medicaid. Her older constituents could be devastated by massive jumps in premiums. And her middle-class constituents won’t receive enough of a tax benefit to pay for a decent health insurance plan. Her women constituents, if the Freedom Caucus gets its way, will see insurers strip out pregnancy, pre-natal, and newborn care from standard plans. Her constituents struggling with drug addiction or recovery will no longer be able to count on insurance plans to provide support.
An apology for the truly abysmal lack of legislation she’s actually had signed into law, despite her constant claims that she’s working hard on behalf of her constituents. She’s had one bill, one, signed into law since her initial election to the House in 2014, H.R 321, which does nothing more than encourage NASA to support women and girls in STEM fields – an effort NASA has dedicated time and resources to for years. All Comstock’s supposed hard work yielded a net zero result.
An apology to all of her constituents who work for the federal government, who are suffering under the burden of an unnecessary hiring freeze unable to bring on needed new staff, despite her claimed commitment to supporting the federal workforce. Comstock represents a District heavily invested and closely tied to the federal workforce. Many of us work for or with the federal government. She’s refused to issue anything more than a mild-mannered rebuttal of the ridiculous EO issued in the early weeks of the Trump administration freezing federal hiring (it does not prevent such agencies from hiring contractors to perform work, so the EO achieves absolutely nothing. It forces the government to hire expensive contractors who have no incentive other than profit). She’s also refused to speak out against the Trump administration’s baseless attacks on the federal workforce. Federal workers, most of whom are dedicated public servants despite the Trump administration’s attempts to paint them as leakers, are living in fear of having the agency they support stripped of funding, or being ordered to turn over evidence proving they aren’t leaking. As our representative in Congress, she should be defending the dedication of the federal workers she represents, not sitting silently in the corner.
But most importantly, Rep. Comstock owes her constituents an apology for refusing to take a firm stance on almost anything – any issue, any bill, anything of substance – hence her moniker, “No Comment Comstock.”
As a progressive, I fiercely disagree with the members of the House Freedom Caucus, but at least they have the guts to take a stance on something and stick to it. I don’t share their belief that we need to deny the most vulnerable among us health insurance, but I can at least respect them (begrudgingly), for taking a stand publicly and sticking to it. In two years’ time their constituents will have an opportunity to decide whether those views align with their own, and give their representatives another term, or vote them out.
We live in a representative democracy. Elected officials are elected to represent their constituents’ views in our democratic system at the local, state, and national level. Part of that representation must include informing your voters of the stances you plan to take on their behalf. And in this, the most crucial aspect of her role, Rep. Comstock has utterly failed.
With her silence on the #AHCA she has proven beyond a doubt that she did not run for Congress to honorably represent the people of the tenth district, but rather to live high on the hog off of PAC donations, and the more than respectable salary members of the House receive.
The Irish playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said, “I am of the opinion that my life belongs to my community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.” This is our community, and we can and we must do for it whatever we can. If our elected officials do not honor the privilege of representing our community while in office, well then, we’ll simply have to take it back.
Loudoun Young Democrats Communications Chair