Dear Representative Reed (may I call you Tom?),
First of all, congratulations on winning back your seat in the U.S. house of representatives in last Tuesday’s election! You did pretty well. 149,779 people in your district (58.1%) voted for you. I live in your district—in the far northern part of Allegany County—so I’m one of the people you’ll be representing in Congress for the next two years.
I didn’t actually vote for you. I was one of the 107,822 people (41.9%) who voted for the guy who was running against you. You can probably guess that if I voted for him, I probably did not vote for our president-elect. And you would be right. But this worries me. Why should you be able to figure out how I voted for president? It’s probably because I fit into a category. Our country is really, really, divided. The people like me, and the 149,779 people in our district who voted for you live and work alongside each other. We are neighbors and coworkers. But we’ve having a hard time working together, politically.
I’m pretty discouraged about what happened in the presidential election. But I’m also energized. I’ve decided that I need to be more politically engaged. I need to know more about my congressional representative. And I need to tell my congressional representative who I am and what I care about. My big dream (and sometimes it feels like a futile one) is that we can get elected officials who represent the middle—who speak both to me and to people who are not like me. I dream that I and my neighbors and coworkers who voted for you can work on projects that that we all care about.
I have some ideas about what those projects might be. But I’ll save those for future letters. In the meantime, let me tell you just a little about me and what I’ve got coming up this week.
Let’s see: what order should I put these in? I’ll start with my deepest commitments and then move to more specially personal information. I’m a Christian. My belief that Jesus rose from the dead and that everything will eventually be remade is foundationally important to how I see the world. I’ve been married for 19 years and I have three children. I’m a gardener who loves to produce food and flowers on a little plot of land—and so I care a lot about the water, the air, the trees, and the creatures in my neighborhood. I work full-time at a private religious college. I’m a woman. I’m white; my ancestors came as immigrants from the Netherlands in the late 19th century. And I’m pretty well-educated, with a couple of degrees beyond college. And you can probably guess that I’m in my early 40s.
What’s going on with me this week? I’m doing conferences with students in my Writing 101 class because they are writing research papers. In my other class, I’m going to be teaching Matthew Arnold, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’m still harvesting some bok choy and a few golden beets from the garden and waiting to see if my chickens start laying eggs. And we’re taking one of our cats to get spayed on Friday.
What are you going to be doing this week?
I’ll write again soon,