My Congressman’s newsletter: refreshing, intelligent communication

Those of us who are politically engaged often get dozens of on-line political solicitations every day. There’s a basic formula to them:


This is even true of some of our finest progressive Democrats, such as Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Recently I’ve received some totally different correspondence from a member of Congress; Representative Lacy Clay (D), representing Missouri’s first district.

It’s a weekly edition of his newsletter called “Backbone,” which works to inform constituents and others as to what is going on in Congress. There is very little self-aggrandizement, but much valuable information from a reliable source inside the Beltway.  On Monday, September 30, 2013, Congressman Clay wrote:

House Republicans had a choice…pass the clean funding bill that the U.S. Senate sent over to keep the government functioning, or throw another Tea Party tantrum that makes a government shutdown almost certain, and brings the United States closer to defaulting on our debt.

With millions of jobs at stake and the economic recovery hanging in the balance, why are they wasting the nation’s time and the taxpayer’s money?

The truth is that the fight isn’t really between Democrats and Republicans, it’s between Republicans who want to do their job, and House GOP Tea Party members who prefer, in their own words, to employ a “Kill all the hostages” legislative strategy.

Clay goes on to write:

Here’s a link to a great story published in POLITICO that gives an inside view of the internal war that Speaker Boehner is facing.

GOP move on Obamacare all but ensures shutdowns
Read more:

You can read the newsletter in its reasonably sized entirety by clicking here:

Among other things, you might note that the newsletter:

  1. Delineates the impact of a government shutdown.
  2. Provides helpful information on how to learn more about and sign up for the Affordable Care Act.
  3. Describes working on a settlement to provide justice to black farmers who were discriminated against until 1997.
  4. Puts in a small and non-obtrusive “contribute” line.
  5. Ends by Clay saying, “If you have interesting items or political news that you would like me to mention next time, please send them to me at .”

The communication style of the newsletter offers way that all of us can do business with one another. But Representative Clay and other reasonable public officials need others who will engage in serious dialogue with them. Let’s hope that both parties work to nominate candidates who can reason, and who are not thoroughly self-absorbed.