An Open Letter
to the Senators and Congressional Representatives
of the United States
from Alan Hale, astrophysicist
co-discoverer of Comet Hale-Bopp
Dear Senators and Representatives,
My name is Alan Hale.
I live in the mountains of southern New Mexico, and if you saw that beautiful comet that was shining in our nighttime skies during the spring months of 1997, then you've heard of me. Perhaps you may also be aware that during the past eighteen months I have led two delegations of American scientists and students on "scientific diplomacy" expeditions to Iran. In any event, if you'll forgive my being so presumptuous, I'd like to take a few minutes of your time and share my thoughts on the events of the past two months.
Long before I became known for finding a comet, I was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, and spent a few years thereafter as an officer in the U.S. Navy. My military "career" was nothing to brag about, but my experiences from those years of my life have not been completely lost upon me. One thing I remember is the oath of office I took both when I entered the Naval Academy, and four years later when I graduated and received my commission. The first lines read: "I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same." I believe that your oath of office contains pretty much the same language.
Let's take a look at that Constitution of the United States. Its first three words were considered by its authors to be so important that they are written in far larger letters than any other words in that document. These three words are "We the People." These words are not "We the political parties." They are not "We the privileged few who have lots of money." They are not "We the partisan mob." In our governing document that we have all sworn our allegiance to, the founders of our nation made it absolutely clear with these three words that the true power of our government is to come from its people.
We can look further. Thomas Jefferson, in our nation's Declaration of Independence, gave us the classic words: "[G]overnments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." Perhaps former President Abraham Lincoln said it best, when in the midst of a hideous war that literally split this nation apart, showed honor to those who had fallen by stating that they had made their sacrifices so ". . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
I was raised to believe in these ideals, and I'd still like to believe in them. But as I've watched the events of the past two months unfold my beliefs in these ideals have been severely betrayed. This goes far beyond the individual candidates involved in the Presidential election, and who I may or may not have supported. No, it is clear that I am watching the complete unraveling of all the principles upon which our nation was founded, principles that I was proud to represent as an American when I have visited places like Iran.
"We the People" chose a President for this nation. We, the governed, did not consent to have the political parties, or the Supreme Court, or a mob controlled by partisan Congressmen, intervene and choose our President for us. The installation of a President who was "selected" in this manner in defiance of the expressed will of the people spits in the face of everything we have been taught to believe in, dishonors the Constitution to which we've sworn our allegiance, and insults the memories of all those who have sacrificed so much for our nation.
But there is a solution. Title 3, Chapter 1, Article 15 of the U.S. Code states that when the Senators and Congressional Representatives certify the electoral votes on January 6, any Senator, together with any Congressional Representative, can challenge the electoral votes from any state for any reason. There is ample reason to challenge the votes from the state of Florida; the incredible reports of voting irregularities in that state -- with more coming to light almost every day -- and the media-initiated counting of previously-uncounted votes make it emphatically clear that the given electoral votes do not reflect the will of the people in that state, nor do they reflect the will of the people of this nation.
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to challenge and reject the erroneous and illegitimate electoral votes from Florida. This will take immense courage, and will take our nation into some uncharted territory; but we are a strong nation, and we are capable of finding a solution that accurately reflects the wishes and consent of its people. But if we instead take the easy way out, we will have demonstrated to the world, to our children, and to history, that we are not worthy of the principles that we have always espoused, and we will have disgraced ourselves for all to see.
You have an immense responsibility awaiting you on January 6. I hope that when you face that responsibility, you will remember the true power and authority behind our government, and that you will do the right thing by our nation's people.
I thank you for your patience with me, and in closing I'd like to share a personal statement. The comet that bears my name will return in about 2400 years, and I've often wondered, both to myself and in public, just what kind of world will greet it at that time. We have such a long ways to go. Will we finally be free of war, of hatred, of bigotry, by then? Will we have matured enough as a species to be able to govern ourselves responsibly, and to be able to take care of our people, and our planet? There's only one way for us to find out. The answers begin with us, here, today.
Cloudcroft, New Mexico