Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An open letter to Jason Chaffetz


I couldn't help but notice that--once again--I am no longer able to leave comments on your Facebook page. At first I thought I would give you the benefit of a doubt and chalk it up to glitches associated with the recent changes Facebook has been implementing into its system but as the glitches have calmed down, my ability to post comments on your virtual wall has not returned. I can't even send you a direct message via Facebook as I have in the past.

Given your track record of trying to silence people who criticize you on Facebook and YouTube (most notably myself and Dave Iba), it would appear that you have decided to take some of this criticism personally and exact your revenge in the most cowardly manner possible in a free society. This is becoming quite a habit for you and not one that is becoming of a United States Congressman.

How many times have I told you that if you want to be in the public spotlight--which you seem to crave more than doing anything of substance--then you need to have a thicker skin. You can't take what I say personally any more than what might be said about you in televised or printed editorials. I haven't had the kind of exposure that would make my opinions about you matter in the eyes of voters. The largest audience I get for my criticism of you is on your "Fan" page where my remarks are clearly outnumbered by the sycophantic overtures you seem to feed off of. Have you blocked anyone from your group because all they offer you is flattery and hollow praise? No.

And yet here I am, one voice in a group of thousands of "fans" who gives you enough credit to challenge your positions, to question your stand on specific issues and while you have given very short answers to a small percentage of my questions--which I appreciate--it's all for nothing if your response to tougher criticism is to try and silence me.

There are people in your forum that call me a joke and that's fine, I don't take it personally. I have friends who have said to me, "Chaffetz probably thinks you're a joke," until I explain to them that this isn't the first time that you've tried to silence me because I said something that you didn't like to hear. Because this is behavior that you have exhibited before, we can't honestly conclude that you think I'm a joke.

Frankly, we think you feel threatened.

If I was a joke, you'd just ignore me. Maybe you would try and placate me with short, ambiguous, one-sentence answers to specific questions that your "fans" would praise you for. But, instead, you chose to silence me in the one forum that you can control--that is not the act of a man who's laughing. Perhaps you've chosen to be offended because I use strong language to illustrate my opinion of you. I have called you impotent--in reference to your political influence. I've called you a liar and backed up my assertions with facts that directly contradict your statements. I've called you out for making a big self-righteous show about how you claim to be changing things in Washington and illustrated just how much you are a part of that broken system. I'm probably the only person you know who's willing to call you out on your political failings and demand that you address them. I'm the only person who dares look past your rhetoric and ask you to reconcile it with your actions. I'm the one guy who's not going to settle for your token gestures and symbolic "reform" while you ignore the bigger problems that are destroying our country. Bottom line, I'm the best friend and "fan" that you will ever have because you can always count on me to be honest with you and NOT kiss your ass.

If you aren't already aware, I have decided to do more than just criticize the job that you're doing as Congressman. I have made the decision to challenge you in the general election in November as an independent candidate. Before you booted me, I made a conscious decision to say nothing about my campaign or answer any questions related to it on your Facebook page because I respected it as one of your tools to communicate with your constituents--even though you do more inflaming than communicating--and a place for open discourse despite the fact that most people in that forum aren't open to anything.

I'd like to formally request that I be allowed to maintain a participatory presence on your Facebook page as well as invite you to become a member of my Facebook group and participate in the discussion that occurs there. You are welcome to be as harsh and critical of my politics as I have been of yours and I promise to give honest, straight-forward responses to your questions.

Have you ever watched the movie "The Godfather"? Remember that classic line, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer"? I'm not saying that we are enemies but we certainly are opponents and it would be wise for both of us to keep tabs on the other, maintain an open dialogue and challenge each other on the issues. That is if having an open mind and thick skin are traits that you value in a public servant.


Joe Puente

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