Editorial: Congressman, stay where you’re needed

Last week Republican Rep. Robert Hurt paid his first official visit to our neck of the woods as our new incumbent congressman, visiting with local business people in Warrenton. What a waste of time – his and ours!

Uncertainty, Rep. Hurt allowed, is bad for business. So why was our congressman spending valuable time out here when so much hard work needs to be done in Big Washington to mitigate economic uncertainty?

The answer is simple, yet speaks volumes about how dysfunctional Congress has become:

Like virtually all incumbents, Rep. Hurt spends most of his time in a state of perpetual campaigning – selling himself to us, his constituents, or raising money to brand and better sell himself, like any other product, to us as if we’re nothing but consumers.

Even in gerrymandered “safe” Republican seats like our 5th Congressional District, the incumbent must constantly worry about possible primary challenges from his right. Indeed, our district – stretching southward like a snake all the way to the Carolina border – could be the “poster child” for gerrymandering.

Gerrymandered congressional districts are perhaps the primary cause, in the view of political scientists, of the current institutional dysfunction in Big Washington. So it is that, though the Democratic presidential ticket carried Virginia by a margin of almost two million votes, only three of the state’s 11 congressional districts elected Democrats.

The predictable result? Governmental gridlock. And worse: Congress’s threat to not pay its own bills, turning America into a “deadbeat” nation. It’s as if Rep. Hurt and his congressional colleagues actually want to create economic uncertainty.

All nation-states, it is said, ultimately get the government and leaders that they deserve. And in a democracy we surely can’t blame anybody but ourselves, the voters. We the people! As the cartoon character Pogo long ago and famously said, we have met the enemy and he is us.  

By all accounts (including my own), Rep. Hurt is not only a nice guy but also intelligent. So let us prove we’re not ungovernable and summon the courage to tell him the truth: Go back to Big Washington, please, and don’t come back home until the job gets done.

Walter Nicklin


  1. Congressman Hurt Keeps In Touch

    After reading Mr. Nicklin’s scathing editorial last week, I felt inclined to express my appreciation for Congressman Hurt taking time to visit his District. When Congress is not in session, I hope we all would expect our members of Congress to get out of the beltway and back in to the real word at home to make sure they are aware of their constituents’ thoughts on issues – especially in these important times.

    I think the problem with Big Washington is that, too often, members get elected and they forget where they’ve come from and they forget who they work for. From all I can tell, we are lucky to have a representative like Robert Hurt who makes an effort to stay in touch and to visit the people he works for.

    I respectfully disagree with Mr. Nicklin on this topic and am glad to know that Robert Hurt sees the importance of visiting the district and keeping in touch – and that he has not forgotten who he works for or why he is there.

    Since when is it a waste of time for a Congressman to meet with his constituents? In a representative democracy it is absolutely essential that a representative meet with those he represents. Now I agree with the editor, there is a very big job to be done in Washington – in a few weeks we will hit our debt ceiling. But how will Robert Hurt know what we think about these big issues if he doesn’t bother to talk to us?

    Fortunately we don’t have to worry about answering that question because our representative, Robert Hurt, is very much in touch with the people he represents. He just got sworn in for another term and has already been to visit places around the District – he has not wasted any time getting in touch.

    I am glad that Robert Hurt gets out of Washington and visits around our district. The less those in Congress are up there making a mess and the more they are here talking to the people they represent, the better we all are.

    I support Robert Hurt’s stops in our district when Congress is not in session and I appreciate the time he takes to visit.

    Robert Hurt is a gentleman who is trying to make a difference and to help the Country out in these trying times. For him to be demeaned or castigated for doing his job is beyond absurd. The Editorials should be a little more circumspect in the future.

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