Senator Gardner,

I am a constituent of yours.  Over the past year, I’ve written you other letters, called your office, commented on your social media sites, signed petitions, joined protest marches.  I even stopped into your DC offices once.  We’ve never met.

I did all these things, like many other Coloradoans have, to try and convince you to honestly represent us.  We asked you not to support the president’s most dangerous nominees: Zinke, DeVos, Gorsuch, Pruitt.  We asked you not to take away our healthcare.  We asked you to protect our environment from exploitation.  And we asked you to stand up against Donald Trump himself, who represents the worst of America.  You did the opposite of what we asked, in all of these things, and more.

This year has been hard for me.  Seeing what’s going on in Washington, and around the country – seeing things that you are enabling and supporting – I’ve felt cycles of anger, outrage, disappointment, fear, anxiety, hopelessness, despair.  No matter how good a day I have personally, how much I feel loved by my friends and family, how beautiful the sunset over the Rockies of an evening, a dark cloud hangs over all of it.  Part of me always knows that you, and others who support what you support, and the president that you also support, are doing and allowing to be done irreparable harm to the people and places that make up America.

Every day I live with this shadow.  It hurts.  And I’m a straight white male – if I and my straight white male friends feel this way every day (and a lot of us do), what might other people, who are more and more often directly threatened by those who you claim to not represent but do:  What do black men feel every day?  What do Muslims feel?  What about immigrants, or those who look like what you think immigrants should look like?  What about gay men, or transgender men?  What about all women?  The poor?  Children?  What must they all be feeling?  How much worse is it going to feel for them, and for me?

And now there’s this tax bill, which will make it a lot worse for us.  Robbing from the future of everyone, and the poor of today.  Incentivizing greed.  Drilling in the ANWR.  Gutting Obamacare.  A tax bill designed to reward the most powerful and rich, at the expense of everyone else.  I was going to write you to say that I don’t support this.  And that you shouldn’t either, that you should vote against it, that you should be ashamed of supporting it, of lying to defend it.

But then I wrote this letter instead.  Because I realized that you’re not ashamed, you’re not going to change your vote, you’re not going to admit your lies.  This letter won’t work. Because you just don’t care.

You don’t care that your vote for this tax bill would be a vote to take from those who can least afford it in order to give to those who least need it.  Just like you don’t care that your vote for Zinke was a vote to gut our public lands, or your vote to repeal Obamacare was a vote to take health insurance away from hundreds of thousands of your constituents.  Just like you don’t care that your decision not to oppose a president who practices racism, divisiveness, and ugliness makes you racist, divisive, and ugly.

So I’m not asking you to change your vote on the tax bill.  Not because we don’t need you to, but because you won’t.  You’ve made it abundantly clear that you don’t care about us: about your state, your country, your world, your constituents.  You just. Don’t. Care.

Instead, I’m asking you how you do it.  How do you not care?  Because I’m getting tired of caring. I’m tired of being angry.  I’m tired of being afraid.  I’m tired of feeling hopeless.  I’m tired of worrying about my future, and the future of all the vulnerable people and places in this country.  I’m tired of being ashamed of this country.  So how do you do it?  How do you, Senator Gardner, shut off that part of you that compels you to care at all about your environment, your country, your state, the people you once swore to represent?  I can’t seem to stop caring, but a break from it would sure be nice.  And you clearly can, and have.  So what’s your secret?  How do you stop yourself from feeling human?  Since you won’t change your votes on any of this, since you could help stop all this but won’t, the least you could do is tell us how to stop caring as well.  It would be a relief to be as callous and unfeeling as you.


J. Mark Tebben