Thank you, Congressman Bill Flores, for your latest update. I will probably need to get off your list of constituents since we have moved to Austin and another congressional district. For the record, the move is to be near our grandson and parents.

I totally agree about the need for bipartisan approaches, but I cannot believe there was no mention of climate change, mass shootings and possible strategies to combat the use of assault rifles and other weapons by people intent on wreaking havoc, nor any mention of the rollercoaster decisions being made about trade and tariffs that are impacting both the U.S. and world economy. I wonder about the obvious timidity of most in the GOP to say anything critical of a clearly reckless president or to move with real courage to address the issues of gun violence and the extremist groups from which the killers have often sprung.

You must know, contrary to what I hear is a GOP talking points memo, that most of this violence is not coming from the “left.”

I have enormous empathy for the farmers of this state and country, for I love to garden and my ancestors who came to this country were first farmers. Some still are. It seems to me that they are being assaulted by tariff wars, by the unpredictability of a fast-changing climate and by a scapegoating of immigrants which threatens, I would imagine, their supply of the best workers around. Fifty years ago, on my uncles’ farms in southern New Jersey, their operation depended on the labor of Puerto Ricans who picked the tomatoes and peaches.

For me, mass shootings and climate change both feel like assaults on our society, especially on the lives of our grandchildren and their children. I hope you would not want your grandchildren and those after them to live in a world being ravaged by climate change (which will increase our border problems). I hope you would not want succeeding generations to go to a school where the very first lesson they learn is what to do in case of a lockdown because of a shooter on the loose.

I know we disagree on many things , but as a grandparent, I hope there would be at least some agreement on these issues and the need to face them with political courage to counter powerful interests such as the National Rifle Association, gun manufacturers and oil and coal companies that have been hiding knowledge about the impact of carbon on climate change for decades. If they were visionary, they would have started investing profits in alternative energy sources years ago. Texas could have been leading the world in producing energy from alternative sources. God knows we have the sun and the wind that could do so.

The most conservative things we can do is protect the lives of our children and protect the world that enables and sustains all of our lives. I fear the tactic of the day is to abuse both the environment and the “other” in a misguided delusion about the way to protect all of us.

A related issue about valuing, versus fearing, immigration is that you and I are both getting old. In old age, as well as for many with earlier onset of chronic health conditions or disability, our lives will depend on personal care assistants, nursing aides and home-support workers. Limit the immigrants and the lack of anyone to fill those jobs is going to skyrocket the demand and the prices people will be forced to pay.

I have not written op-eds for the Waco paper for a while, partly because of a year filled with some health issues for my spouse but partly because I grow ever more cynical about our elected leaders. At the moment, President Trump is the best thing going for recruiting more Democratic votes. I just wish there were enough in the GOP who would stand up for principle, law and integrity to recover a genuinely conservative voice willing to look at the facts and science, embrace dialogue and compromise and help move us back toward a government that works for everyone. The Democrats have their own problems, but at the moment the GOP seems to have the market on corruption and cowardice. I am not making that accusation against you, but against the party you so vigorously champion. I just wish that you and some of your GOP colleagues had the Texas gumption to tackle issues rather than kowtow to the fears and prejudices of our times.

Something must change in Congress this fall. I hope you can be a positive part of it. We need people on both sides to step back toward the center from the extreme margins and work together — and not amid hollow calls for bipartisanship that actually mean the other side should just do what you say and think. Best wishes in your brief time off as you continue gathering opinions and energy for the fall.

And, again, I am always willing to talk or help.

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Bill Gaventa is a consultant, trainer and coordinator of The Summer Institute on Theology and Disability.

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