(Note to readers: Please forward and share this as much as possible. I want it to get to his office somehow. And please comment below — D and R’s — so he knows you support my request. Thank you!)
An open letter to Senator Scott Brown (R-MA):
Dear Senator Brown:
I am sure you don’t remember me. I took a trip down to Washington, DC last May to meet with you in your office on Capitol Hill. I was with my friend – and fellow mom of a child with diabetes – Shannon Allen (you know; Ray’s wife?) and her adorable son, Walker. Our goal was to introduce ourselves to you and tell you a little bit about why we need your support in our mission toward a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
This kind of trip is nothing new to me. While I’m really just a suburban PTO mom, I’ve actually had the opportunity to meet not only with all the Massachusetts delegation over the years, but also with many key legislative leaders. I’ve sat down and had good meetings with Senators Kennedy, Kerry, Hatch, Harkin, Brown (the other one; from Ohio), Clinton, Baucus, Lautenberg, Saunders, Brownback, Colburn, Obama (when he was a senator as well as now that he’s a president), Akaka, Snow, Collins . . . I could go on and on. But you get the idea. I’ve met with liberal and conservative leaders. Sometimes I’ve left knowing they will vote for all I wish them to vote for. Sometimes I leave thinking at least I got them to think a little. Sometimes I leave thinking: well, we’re never going to agree on that issue, but he/she is certainly a caring person who stands by his/her convictions. Never have I left feeling, well, feeling invisible and inconsequential.
That, unfortunately, was the case with you. Look, it’s no secret that my daughter was a very close friend with the Late Senator Kennedy (she was actually right next to you at the groundbreaking a few weeks ago. She was there as a personal guest of Vicky Kennedy). Here’s a link to explain their friendship:
So heading into his office without him there was going to be emotional for me. But I promise you: in no way did that skewer my hopes for our meeting. Because I watched your campaign closely. I listened to your messaging. You’re the guy with the brown coat and the truck. You’re the guy who wants to make this the “people’s seat.” You’re everyman, right? So while I was not completely confident I’d win you over to voting for and supporting diabetes research issues in Washington, I certainly expected to like you. Hey, there’s almost no one I’d rather go to a party with than Mike Huckabee and he and I have discovered we pretty much disagree on everything. So I had great hope for our meeting. (Besides, my needs go way beyond having a friend in the office. I’m there to help cure my child. Period. For that reason I’ll accept any kind of positive starting point with anyone. Really.)
It started off well. Your staffer was bright, attentive and interested in what Shannon and I had to say. She even brought us out to sit on your glorious balcony (it was a beautiful day). You had a busy schedule. I believe the President of Mexico was addressing a joint session that day. So, savvy as I am to Capitol Hill procedures, I quietly let Shannon (who was a newbie to these kind of meetings) know that we might not get to talk to you for more than, say, five minutes. Still, I was excited.
And then you arrived. “I hear you want a photo?” You said, and motioned for us to pose with you. We did, and then I – chosen by our team as the lead speaker for the meeting – brought up what we were there for. “Senator Brown, we’re here to talk to you about Type 1 Diabetes —“
Before I could get my entire thought out, you held your hand up in front of my face to stop me (I thought: did he learn that when his daughter’s were teenagers?) and said, “I already know all about diabetes. My grandmother had it.” I don’t believe you ever actually made eye contact with me. But then again, it was hard to see past your “truck drivin’ hard-working regular American guy” hand.
You turned on your heel and were gone. That was it.
Well, that wasn’t completely it. I assumed you had to rush off for the President of Mexico. Even though you were, at best, dismissive and really, when it comes down to it, rude; I wanted to give you a wide berth. He’s a new guy. I thought. He might be stressed for time. But then Shannon’s son wandered off into an area he should not be in. She went after him and there you were, still in the office. Not on the phone. Not in a meeting. Your hand in my face had not been out of nervousness and a rush. Not at all.
I left flabbergasted. Because, Senator Brown, if there’s one thing I’ve learned all these years of visiting the hill it’s this: Legislators are always looking for you to leave happy. I’ve been in meetings over stem cell (now that was one hot topic) with some of the most staunch opponents on earth. We didn’t even come close to agreeing. But they’d find something to share like this. “Look at the beautiful blue sky out there! Isn’t it lovely?” As silly as it sounds, even in their complete opposition to my request, they always helped me to leave feeling like a human being.
And you? From your ad campaign I frankly thought you’d be the friendliest guy on earth. I was expecting it to be so friendly it was almost annoying (I’m kind of snarky that way). Now, you might say: well, I don’t agree with what you stand for and at least I’m true to what I believe. But that’s impossible. You never gave us a chance to explain our passion and our needs. Frankly, Senator Brown, you didn’t give a darn.
Now, I somehow, over this past year (while watching your approval ratings soar) thought: well maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just not an approachable person. Then I read, today, another account of a constituent meeting with you. It’s here:
The part that piqued my interest was this:
“Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA, “didn’t give us the time of day or tell us if he supported anything,” but he showed up for a photo op, Douglass said.”
So, it’s not me. It might just be you.
I write this note because I honestly wonder if you even realize you come off that way. I know; it’s a big job and you’re on a huge learning curve.
So I’d like to make an offer: Let’s wipe the slate clean. Let’s sit down and talk. I can zip down to DC almost any time (my daughter with diabetes is in college there. If she’s not too overwhelmed with finals I can even ask her to come along).
I know you cannot give me an hour. A half hour can be a challenge for an elected official with all they have to do in a day.
But how about 15 minutes? Let’s start fresh. We’ll shake hands, sit down and I’ll tell you my mission and passion. Then you can respectfully choose to support it or not. And while I may not agree, I’ll understand.
Even if I leave just having seen how blue you thought the sky was that day, it will be an improvement.
I await your reply.
Moira McCarthy Stanford
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