One question that was asked the most at recent gatherings at Congressman Perriello’s office was concerning the number of phone calls to his offices about the Cap and Trade legislation. Many others as well as myself were interested as to whether the majority of calls were for or against the bill. I have traded several emails with Mr. Perriello’s chief of staff Lise Clavel concerning this question. The initial letter I received from Perriello’s office in reference to our July 2nd gathering did not answer any questions that were put forth, the letter was the typical reaction as to why he voted the way he did. I replied to his chief of staff as to the “lack of a real response” and reiterated that we were very curious about the phone calls. Below is the answer to my email.
“The Congressman’s responded to the substance of the issues raised and
his view that the energy bill passed by the House will help wean us
off our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, as well as create clean
energy jobs in America. No piece of legislation is free of problems,
and the congressman does not take his votes lightly, but he supports
those measures he believes will be most effective toward improving the
lives of his constituents.
As I mentioned, we represent 655,000 citizens, not all of whom call or
write. We strive to balance the interests of all of those citizens as
best we can. One way to do that is by listening to the concerns raised
in calls and letters, which is why it is important that people contact
the Congressman. But not all who contact our office are clearly on one
side or another. The thoughtful people who contact the Congressman
often have suggestions about how to improve the legislation Congress
is considering, and their views cannot be simply categorized as for or
against a piece of legislation. The founders crafted a wonderful
system of representative democracy that cannot be reduced to tallying
up the number of calls and letters, both because calls and letters
cannot be so easily categorized and because not all people who have a
view feel compelled to share them. We listen to those who contact us,
but we do not want to forget about those who don’t.
Simply tallying up calls and letters and making decisions based on
those tallies would require that we verify the residence of the person
who contacted us and authenticity of the letters we receive, which
would have a chilling effect on people contacting us. And it would
transform our democracy from one based on civil discourse over
divergent ideas to one based on something more akin to American Idol
or Survivor. We are not choosing a music celebrity or voting someone
off an island; we are choosing a future for our country.
We prefer to listen to the substance of the arguments being made, to
make sound judgments based on what we know, and then to cast our lot
with those that are most promising for the future of this country.”
Thanks for reaching out,
When I received this answer I followed back with this email:
“So in short our question about the number of calls pro or con concerning the cap and trade legislation will not be answered. Am I correct in making that assumption?” To which she responded: “Mr. Hay Your questions cannot be answered for all the reasons I described below.”
I can only come to the conclusion that the phone calls were overwhelmingly against cap and trade and they do not want to have that get out. Of course others may come to different conclusions and that is what makes this country great.