Bergman needs to listen to people of the 1st District


I attended a Legislative Chat with U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman in Alpena on Feb. 22. I appreciate the opportunity to meet him and to get his views on a number of issues. One point he made stood out to me. Rep. Bergman spoke at length about how folks have gamed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) system. He may be right that some people have gamed the system, but I see no evidence that the problems with the ACA are caused by cynicism and gaming on the part of the people who are insured.

A lack of integrity and respect for any system, not just the ACA, will undermine whatever noble ends were intended by those who created it. Ultimately, if people, especially leadership, do not act with integrity and respect for a system, it will fail.

We have a crisis of leadership in this country. Many of our leaders have been shown to be cynical, self-serving, and prone to completely distorting the facts or outright lying. Many of our leaders are not respected, and therefore the system is not respected. People are so frustrated that many want to see the system torn down. I don’t think we can afford to let that happen. This lack of integrity and gaming of the system starts at the top with President Donald Trump. His cynical move to “divest” himself of his lucrative holdings is considered by ethics experts to be in violation of the Constitution. The personal profit he receives by being president is orders of magnitude beyond that of any other president before him. This one example, and there are many others, corrodes the credibility of our government.

As a Marine general, Rep. Bergman was in a position of great responsibility and leadership. I’m sure that he learned that people pay close attention to their leaders, and if he didn’t walk the talk then he couldn’t expect anything different from the people he led. I believe that the voters of the 1st District expect him to act independently and responsibly, and to show respect for them and for the democratic process that has served our republic so well. Yet, to date, every vote Rep. Bergman has cast has been in support of the Trump agenda.

Rep. Bergman also said that he didn’t see a need to have town hall meetings so early in the term because “why would you expose your game plan before it’s ready?” This suggests to me that he doesn’t view his constituents as part of the legislative process and that he’ll be committed to a plan before it goes public. I submit that he must visibly reach out, listen and respond to the people of the 1st District, both those who agree with the Trump/Republican agenda and those who don’t. While I’m sure that he will encounter people who are outspoken and even raucous, I assure him that by showing that he listens and is responsive, he will begin to earn the respect of his constituents.

John DeSpelder

Traverse City