Voters invoke ghost of Frelinghuysen pere

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen continues to determinedly dodge Town Hall-style meetings, voters in his 11th Congressional district—which includes Byram, Hopatcong, Ogdensburg, Sparta and Stanhope—remain insistent on discussion of why, over the course of 12 terms, he has veered so far to the right that he currently votes 100 percent in favor of the GOP party line.

FRELINGHUYSEN-father-son-450.jpgAnd as that party line becomes more Draconian and more punitive, some are comparing the representative with another Frelinghuysen in another repressive era: the current congressman’s father, Peter Frelinghuysen.

At a meeting in Montclair set up by NJ 11th for Change, one of four such meetings at which Rodney Frelinghuysen was a no-show, constituent Matt Walter noted:

“A little over 60 years ago, there was a moderate Republican from New Jersey who spoke out against Senator Joseph McCarthy ... The moderate Republican who said this in 1954 was Rep. Peter Frelinghuysen.

So my question for you, Congressman, is how much damage does President Trump need to do to the country and to the Republican party before you stand up and find your own Peter Frelinghuysen moment?”

It’s a good question, noted the NJ Star-Ledger in a recent editorial, adding: We have doubts that the congressman and other members of his party can provide an answer, or summon the will to break a voting pattern that is conspicuously Draconian.

“Groups such as the NJ 11th For Change wonder whether Frelinghuysen even has the courage to defend his record—he hasn't met with constituents in a town hall in years—and the same waiting game is now being played in most red districts throughout New Jersey and the U.S.”

Frelinghuysen’s casting ballots in lock-step with a regime that is rapidly dismantling progressive institutions and hard-won civil liberties, coupled with his refusal to be held accountable by his constituents, bodes ill not only for his traditionally “red” district, but for democracy as a whole.

And it’s not too early for progressive voters to remember that despite his legacy and decades in Congress, they have a choice.

And 2018, when Rodney Frelinghuysen along with every other member of the U.S. House, is the time to exercise that choice.