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Opinion Letters An open letter to U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows

Dear Rep. Meadows:

There once was a time in this country when opposing parties would come together and work for the good of our citizens. Though there are many examples of this, let me point to one with which I was intimately involved.

Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, the pollution problems of the Potomac River had become infamous. In 1957, the U.S. Public Health Service declared the Potomac unsafe for swimming. A sign fastened to the pier at Mount Vernon advised visitors to “Avoid Contact With Polluted River Water.”

The Potomac, the drinking water source for DC, had become very difficult to adequately treat. This growing problem was addressed not by a political faction, but by a coalition of U.S. Congressmen from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, led by Maryland’s Republican Representative Gilbert Gude, who brought national river legislation before the U.S. House.

The coalition’s work continued over the next several decades, culminating in vastly improved water quality for all those who depended on the Potomac. “Environmentalist” was not a dirty word, but a term of which one could be justly proud.

Fast forward to October 2013. The Tea Party, apparently willing to work only for their own narrow interests, reportedly has called you their “poster boy,” Rep. Meadows. The U.S. Government has been closed since Oct. 1 because the Tea Party finds the Affordable Care Act – duly passed into law by our Congress – unpalatable for their taste. Thus, they will hold the entire U.S. hostage.

Never mind the consequences. The small businesses that have been wrecked by this shutdown – businesses that reach far beyond the direct furloughs, businesses that may not survive. The incredible devastation to the lives of hard-working men and women, barely keeping their heads above water in the best of times. The fact that this country is being taken back to the Dark Ages, and those who are the architects of that move – the Tea Party – are disclaiming any responsibility.

Don’t throw us the crumb of opening the Statue of Liberty, simply because it is an icon of the U.S. Do what should never have happened in the first place – fund our country completely and give some hope to those who have had their trust betrayed by their elected representatives.

Doug Woodward — Franklin, N.C.

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