Over the weekend, I had a chance to tell US Rep Charlie Dent of the PA-15th that I appreciated the way his Washington staff engaged me on the SOPA issue when I called. I also thanked him for coming out against the bill.
Was the aide I spoke with the day Wikipedia went dark just doing her job? No. She was doing her job well. The process was engaging, and given the number of calls that office surely had that day, it could have gone another way entirely. I’m thankful that it didn’t.
Did Congressman Dent have to come out against SOPA? Not really. Even though the bill was dead in the water halfway through the day, or perhaps because the bill was dead, the Congressman didn’t have to comment one way or the other. But he did, and I’m glad he did. If I can take the time to call their offices and request a certain outcome, I should take the time to thank my elected officials for heeding the will of the people when I get the chance.
The politics here in PA-15, like the politics where you live, are complicated. Here, we’re talking about redistricting, an NIZ, significant urban renewal, significant needs among the homeless, the working poor, and, yes, the middle class. We’re also talking about significant opportunities. Your communities are faced with some of the same challenges and rise-to-the-occasion kinds of moments. Some won’t like that I’ve thanked Charlie Dent for anything, and others believe he’s the congressional candidate best positioned to help PA-15 through the change that’s coming. That’s politics. That’s people. But I believe we’re called to civil discourse, and I believe that civil discourse begets itself, even as the smut that passes for political information propagates at dangerous angles.
Charlie Dent got SOPA right, and I’m glad I got to tell him so in person. If that opens the door for more discussion about other pressing issues, all the better. That’s all part of my job, and all part of yours.