Herman: The GOP has selected me to represent my U.S. House district

Sept 06, 2018
American-Statesman columnist Ken Herman has been chosen by the Republican National Committee to represent his U.S. House district in a “census.” KEN HERMAN / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Once again, as our beloved nation charts its path through perilous times, I am chosen.

It says so right there in the materials in the envelope marked, “Do Not Destroy. Official Document. Final Notice.”

Gulp.

Inside, in a letter penned on “Wednesday Morning,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was clear, if not concise, in pinpointing the task now facing me. The letter is pretty similar to one I got in August 2015 from then-GOP Chairman Reince Priebus.

“Dear Mr. Herman, The future of America — and the Republican Party — is at stake in November,” McDaniel told me. “Whoever wins the battle for control of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives will ultimately determine the future of President Trump’s agenda and the course of our nation for decades to come.”

Double gulp.

“That is why,” the chairwoman continued, “with the critical Midterm Election less than three months away, we are very concerned to learn that you have not returned the 2018 CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT CENSUS that was registered in your name and sent to you several weeks ago.”

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Some of that was underlined, and some was in bold.

The next sentence was in eye-catching italics: “The upcoming elections are too close and too important to take any chance that our data is not complete.” (Quick grammar note: Data is a plural word, so that should be “our data are not complete.”)

“So President Trump has requested that we immediately send you another copy of your Census,” McDaniel told me.

How blessed we are to have a president who can take time away from his busy schedule of live-tweeting as he watches TV to tell the GOP chairwoman to immediately send me another copy.

This, of course, is not a census as we know it. This is a questionnaire about issues of the day, including some of the very ones that Trump tweets about after learning about them on TV.

Truth be told, the questionnaire probably isn’t really the most important enclosure in this “Official Document.” I’m thinking No. 1 here is the request for “a generous contribution of $25, $50, $100, $200, $250, $1,000 or whatever you can send to help underwrite the costs of this project … and better deliver President Trump’s message to all Americans as we fight to win in the November elections.”

Which do you think gets more attention at the RNC? Returned questionnaires with answers or my credit card number?

But let’s make believe the 2018 Congressional District Census is more than a cover for a campaign cash call.

“Special Notice: You have been selected to represent voters in Texas’s 10th Congressional District,” it says. It’s all very official looking, complete with my document tracking code of J18PD111.

It has questions about my political leanings — I consider myself an independent who votes in the GOP primary — and about various subject areas, such as domestic issues and national defense.

Here’s an interesting question: “In an attempt to undermine our democracy, Russia engaged in a sinister and systematic attack on our political system in the 2016 presidential elections. With the critical 2018 Midterm Elections just months away, do you believe our government should act immediately to protect the integrity of our elections?”

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And here’s one they probably don’t want my answer on: “Do you believe the national media has a strong bias against all things Donald Trump and Republican and fails to tell America’s voters the real facts about Republican policies, principles, goals and accomplishments?”

(I hate to be a stickler on this, and I’ve been known to make a mistake or two myself, but media is plural, so it should be “the national media have a strong bias … .”)

Many of the answers I’d give if I chose to participate in this so-called census would be the answers Republicans want to hear. But, for the first time in my life (and I arrived during the Eisenhower presidency), we have a president whose daily conduct in office is far more important than his position on any single issue, important though that issue might be. OK, maybe Richard Nixon also should be in that cohort.

Because of that conduct, there’s a good chance I won’t vote for any Republican (even ones for whom I’ve voted in the past and I still respect) who lack the gumption to state the obvious: This president is intent on debasing many institutions so basic to our nation. Perhaps saddest of all, one of those institutions is the office he holds.

Yes, I’m just one voter and one voice. But, for whatever reason, the GOP has selected me (Document Tracking Code J18PD111) to represent the voters in my U.S. House district.