Bye Bye Rodney

How did we get here? 
These were the words I asked myself as I walked into the shadow of a multistory brick building to join a small, but passionate, group of protestors camped out once again in front of the Morristown, NJ office of Congressional Representative, Chair of the Appropriations Committee, the formerly Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen.

When I saw “we” I mean, specifically, that group of passionate, committed women and men known as NJ11 for Change, a grassroots local political activist group-turned-PAC. Formed in the days after the 2016 election, NJ11 is a non-partisan coalition of citizens who originally came together with the radical agenda of actually seeing their Congressional representative in person. It had been more than 3 years then (now 4) since Rodney Frelinghuysen’s last Town Hall and, as “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act became the GOP’s primary goal in Congress, Frelinghuysen’s constituents wanted to have a word with him. A word he took great pains to avoid.

Oh, sure, you could get a glimpse of the man, with his avuncular expression and meaningless promises of representation, at fairs and libraries — and his favorite place to be seen, schools, where he was all but assured of facing no difficult questions. The folks of NJ’s 11th congressional district, unsatisfied with his evasion, took to visiting his offices in Washington, DC, Wayne and Morristown. Which is what I meant when I thought “here.” Members of NJ11 can be seen in front of the Morristown office every Friday, holding their “Fridays with(out) Frelinghuysen” gatherings, they meet at his Wayne office on Wednesdays. These activists deliver donuts and messages, asking their Congressional representative to please listen to their concerns.

“Here” “we” were. Another day, standing out in the weather — luckily today was mild and cool, not the rain and wind or heat of previous days in front of his office. Here we were again — American citizens begging their Congressional Representative to not adopt policies that would kill many of us, by denying us stable healthcare, finances, housing, legal status, clean air, water and safe food. Again. The sign I held read, “We Can Do The Math. America Can’t Afford Tax Cuts for Billionaires.” Others read “Tax Plan = Tax Scam” and “Repeal and Replace Rodney.”

How did we get here? Why are we being forced to beg for our lives over and over?Where is Rodney Frelinghuysen?

The opportunity to speak directly with constituents that US Congressional Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen passes up on a regular basis, other candidates leap to take. Today we met with Democratic candidates Mikie Sherill and John Bartlett, and Republican Martin Hewitt, who hopes to return his party to less socially and fiscally extreme positions. This was not a candidate forum, mind you, nor a political rally. It was just another day in front of Representative Frelinghuysen’s office. He isn’t listening to the concerned and engaged members of NJ 11 for Change, but other candidates are.

2017 has left Rodney Frelinghuysen’s reputation as a moderate is in tatters, his legacy as a champion of NJ shredded and his integrity gone with vote after vote against the interests of his constituency. Congressional District NJ 11 needs 2018 to be the year we say goodbye to Rodney Procter Frelinghuysen.