STOP SOPA: An Open Letter to Senator Al Franken


This is a letter I sent to Senator Al Franken on 12 January 2012. I live in Minnesota, the state for which Franken is a senator. In 2008, I was a campaign activist for Al Franken’s senate campaign, operating volunteer call operations on behalf of his campaign and canvassing door-to-door to solicit votes on his behalf.

In this letter, I am asking Senator Franken to withdraw his support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). 

Senator Franken,

My name is Jonathan Bates. In 2008 I was precinct captain at the DFL caucus in Upper Lowry Hill in Minneapolis, and from the day following our success in securing your nomination as Minnesota’s DFL candidate for Senate, my fiance and I were tireless in working to ensure that you would become our senator.

Why did we sacrifice all of those hours hosting ‘cell phone parties’ to shore up support for your campaign during the general election? What led us to participate in your campaign at a level far more passionately than we had previously?

Because the constant that came through in all your books, in your Air America radio show, and during your campaign, was integrity and a disdain for those who parsed or finessed the facts. You told us that you would go to Washington not only with your moral compass intact, but with the intent of continuing the mission of Paul Wellstone.

Senator Franken, with all due respect: in light of your recent support for SOPA, PIPA and your bizarre willingness to allow pizza to be substituted for vegetables in our public school lunchrooms, I’m seeing less of Paul Wellstone’s vision and integrity and more of Norm Coleman’s politics-as-usual being channeled through your actions as our senator.

Even from a thousand-plus miles away, I cannot imagine the toxic and difficult environment you must work in every day; I realize the GOP has made it their stated mission to prevent Democrats from achieving anything in Washington, and being at the center of the ‘Storm of No’ must be disheartening at best.

Nonetheless, you are a leader and you are our senator. Your election was a mutual contract based on a promise you made to stand up for what was right, do what best served all Minnesotans, and demonstrate that decent and good people *can* go to Washington without falling prey to corruption, cynicism, apathy or greed.

Remember Paul Wellstone, Senator Franken. Think what he would do, then go to the Senate floor and withdraw your support for SOPA and PIPA.

If your conscience tells you Paul would have differed on other policy matters as well, know that there are thousands of Minnesotans who will support you for doing what you know to be the morally and just thing to do.

Your constituent, respectfully,

Jonathan Bates