Why Not Patty Murray?

An Open Letter to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) 
Regarding Richard Curtis’s Decision to Run

Dear Senator Murray,

As the campaign season begins, I want to start by thanking you for your 18 years of service. I know it has had its challenges as well as successes. I know that you have tried hard to do a good job but many of us think that it is time for a change. Some of this is about your policies (why do you keep voting to spend money on wars?) but mostly the system of which you are a part appears to many of us to be dysfunctional. This two-party system is not democratic and is failing the American people.

With much deliberation and support from my immediate family, I have decided to take up the challenge to run against you. I know this will be an uphill battle as our campaign is limited not only by our inability to match your fundraising but also the difficulty an outsider has in getting the necessary media exposure – which is one of the reasons for running in the first place.

Government is not working for most Americans today and to continue the same practices, the same path, without change shows irresponsibility on the part of the voters. It is also irresponsible, especially for those understanding the crisis, to selfishly choose to stay out of public life. The voters need better choices and, if I did not run, the anger the voters now feel could result in the election of someone who would allow more corporate takeover and loss of freedoms than we are presently experiencing.

Your record shows you are in the high 90th percentile in supporting the Obama administration. Even your fellow Senators, on average, are in the mid-80s so you stand out as someone who does what the President wants and what the President wants is not always what the American people want. We hoped it would be, but that is not the case.

Take your continued votes to fund the occupation in Iraq and the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan and operations elsewhere around the globe. Chalmers Johnson in his book Nemesis lays out a very poignant argument that we must stop empire building or it will mean the end of our republic. Already, the military cost for these wars is over $1 trillion dollars and climbing. This country is being bankrupted by this foreign policy as you must be well aware. The cost to Washington State alone is $22 billion. That is a lot of money that could have gone to fund schools, green jobs, public works, single-payer health care program, drug rehabilitation, proper treatment of veterans; the list of needs is endless.

You may perhaps counter by arguing that, as Senator, the earmarks you bring to this state help compensate for this loss but where does the money you bring into the state go? The top industries to benefit are in defense and military contracts. So you are perpetuating the act of war, the killing of innocent civilians, and the maimed bodies and broken souls of our soldiers.

You more than anyone knows that going to war in Iraq was a criminal act. You voted your conscience and voted No, but then every action you have taken since is to continue to support that illegal and immoral war. Many do not realize it (and I expect that you should) that the invasion of Afghanistan was even less justifiable than the invasion of Iraq. That invasion was justified on the need to pursue Osama bin Laden, but the Taliban government offered to hand over bin Laden if the Bush Administration provided them with some evidence of his guilt (which is what international law required them to do). Instead Bush invaded, illegally, and still you support this criminal endeavor.

I appeal to your sense of decency and moral values. You know you are too caught up in the Washington web of deceit, greed and corruption to be able to play a role in changing the status quo. I know that you have been good on some issues but overall it is simply time to send new ideas to DC. I would hope that I could convince you of this, and probably can’t, but I think most voters agree with me.

As a father of two young girls, as a person trained in theology and philosophy, I want a better world for them to inherit. You must understand my motivation as you, yourself, came into government as “just a mom in tennis shoes,” with women’s issues and the environment among your priorities (and they are equally if not higher priorities for me). People concerned about those issues were your top donors in the beginning. That beginning was glorious but it appears the DC machine has consumed and destroyed that glorious beginning. In 2010 your top donors are now corporate lobbyists and lawyers. It appears you even accepted so much money from the insurance lobbyists that you had to keep single-payer health care reform “off the table” in spite of the fact that the vast majority of Americans support it (and we know it is the system that works).

I know DC is hard. I know that there are compromises that come with DC politics. But I also know that these things need not be true. We can do it differently. I suspect that was a big part of your initial motivation in running, but DC destroyed that optimism, as it had to because of party loyalties. The temptations to give in on principle for the sake of the political deal are profound, and at times seem justified. We cannot do government like this any longer. The stakes are too high and I have to act to protect my children, all of the children. I am sorry to say but it appears that you have traded in those tennis shoes for designer pumps. I have been inside the party machinery myself and know how it transforms people into what it wants. I am not a Democrat and I am not a Republican for that reason. I think I will be a better senator for the new age in which we find ourselves.

I suspect you will make it hard for me to win, so I cannot wish you luck in that, but I do wish you luck in life!

Yours respectfully,

Richard Curtis, PhD (I-WA)