By Bruce Mahall

Do you have a point you’d like to make or an issue you feel strongly about? Submit a letter to the editor or a guest column.

Over the last 10 years I have contacted Rep. Greg Walden’s office three times.

All I received in response were two generic form letters stating the congressman’s position with no indication that anyone cared what I thought.

Lest you think this is normal for a busy congressman, my experience differs.

When I lived in Massachusetts, a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy elicited a personal letter from the senator himself.

When I lived in California, Rep. Bob Lagomarsino voluntarily carried a testimonial letter I wrote to a House hearing.

Walden’s disappointing responses indicate he is less interested in listening to his constituents than in promoting his own agenda.

Health care provides a good example of this.

The Oregon Health Plan, part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), provided health insurance for many of my neighbors who couldn’t otherwise afford coverage.

Most of these people are associated with farming and ranching, hazardous professions in which one serious injury without insurance can mean financial disaster for the small families that run many of the agricultural operations in the 2nd Congressional District.

Walden was the primary author of the GOP health care plan that would have killed the ACA and, by the Congressional Budget Office’s calculations, caused over 64,000 (8 percent) of Walden’s constituents to lose health insurance.

This effort failed, but one wonders why our representative would even try to do this.

And to this day he ardently supports legislation that would undermine the insurance people acquired under the ACA without proposing any worthwhile replacement.

Another action Walden has taken that is an affront to his constituency is his use of connections and power in Washington, D.C., to cause the pardoning of two ranchers, who were convicted by a jury of arson on public land in an effort to conceal their slaughter of a herd of deer, according to court documents.

What signal is Walden sending here?

That arson is OK on public land?

That the law doesn’t apply to certain people?

That politics trumps the rule of law?

While there maybe a minority of people in the 2nd District that applaud Walden’s action, most of the people I know here are honest and law respecting, and I don’t think any of these “explanations” reflect their values.

Everyone in Oregon has been affected by intensifying wildfires. It’s ironic that, having used his political clout to condone arson, Walden now expediently proposes on his webpage to prevent wildfires with “better … management” of our “overstocked forests,” code for opening our forests to massive cutting.

This would please the lumber industry, which (according to the Center for Responsive Politics) has donated over $900,000 to Walden’s campaigns.

But to claim “better forest management” will solve the escalating wildfire problem ignores the facts that huge increases in wildfires have occurred simultaneously in all Western states and in countries around the world, regardless of forest management practices, and that many devastating fires have not occurred in forests at all.

The strong consensus among climate scientists and ecologists is that climate change is driving the worldwide increase in wildfires, and they predicted this over 40 years ago.

Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change.

Yet many of my neighbors employed in agriculture have had difficulty recognizing human induced climate change as a fact, because data that demonstrates this have not been readily accessible to them.

But Walden, as chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, has had the best science and scientists at his fingertips.

Thus, he has had the opportunity and responsibility to interpret for us the best science with fidelity and to make decisions based on sound evidence.

Instead, he has ignored science and perpetrated the alternative myths that climate change is not real, or it is unrelated to human activities.

Walden has voted on approximately 164 measures that would either directly curb or accelerate climate change (data from League of Conservation Voters).

In 11 of these he voted to curb. In 153 he voted to accelerate.

Worse, he has failed us as a leader.

Instead of leading, to our detriment he has chosen to mislead.

These are indicators of being in office too long.

Walden’s political ambitions have displaced his interest in doing what is best for his constituents.

I know little about Walden’s opponent, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, but two things are readily apparent.

She is well qualified for this office, and if she upends such an entrenched politician as Walden, she will pay a lot more attention to her constituents than he has.

— Bruce Mahall lives in Silver Lake.

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