We, the undersigned, have long since known that you have a list—an enemies list ofintellectual foes you wish to isolate. But our policy differences are not why we write. Wewrite today with grave concern over political leadership in a time of deep nationaldivision. We write at a time when free speech and association are more important thanever in our national experiment. How will we, together, solve problems if we cannotspeak? How can you lead when you refuse to listen?
You were elected by the people to build consensus and find compromise—to fiercelydebate the most pressing issues of our day. Often, these debates are meant to becontentious and without a clear solution because innovation comes from greatchallenge. Sadly, our democracy and our freedom hangs in the balance as you use youroffice to bully and single out groups to blame rather than ideas to debate.
Just as you do, our civil society organizations represent many, many millions ofAmericans and a wide array of perspectives and interests. They deserve and increasinglydemand healthy and respectful political dialogue, and well-informed, well-debatedpublic policies. To support the debate our founders intended, all Americans have theright to support causes they believe in without fear of threats from overzealousgovernment officials—threats paraded and perpetrated by you on the Senate floor.
The delicate balance of our democracy is preserved when all groups are free to speak inthe public square, and ALL Americans should be concerned when agents of the
government use their official offices to marginalize political foes.
Your enemies list groups together organizations that themselves maintain differingperspectives. While you have singled us out, labeling us as the enemy, we don’t evenalways agree with one another. And that’s the point:disagreement breeds solutions.
We hear you. Your threat is clear: There is a heavy and inconvenient cost to disagreeingwith you. Calls for debate will be met with political retribution. That’s called tyranny.
And, we reject it.
At the birth of our nation, patriots asserted their right to speech and broke British law indoing so. King George used the full force of the British crown to suppress the rebellion—to suppress speech. In spite of the tyrant’scommands and because they had put theirlives on the line to defend their rights, the patriots enshrined free speech in ourfounding documents; the same documents that gave you your job.
In a country where you should be the patriots leading us into a great future, sadly todayyou are the tyrants.
Americans for Tax Reform
Lisa B. Nelson
American Legislative ExchangeCouncil
John A. Charles, Jr.
Cascade Policy Institute
Committee for a ConstructiveTomorrow
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Franklin Center for Governmentand Policy Integrity
Georgia Public PolicyFoundation
The Heritage Foundation
Idaho Freedom Foundation
The Heartland Institute
J. Robert McClure III
James Madison Institute
The John K. MacIver Institutefor Public Policy
John Locke Foundation
Kansas Policy Institute
Mackinac Center for PublicPolicy
Montana Policy Institute
Sharon J. Rossie
Nevada Policy ResearchInstitute
Pacific Research Institute
Pelican Institute for PublicPolicy
Paul J. Gessing
Rio Grande Foundation
Virginia Institute for PublicPolicy
Carol Platt Liebau
Yankee Institute for PublicPolicy