On issue after issue--war, the imperial presidency, health care, jobs, environment, unions, etc.--the public is overwhelmingly progressive and wants action. People didn't expect progress when the GOP was in charge, but they threw those bums out. What now? As a fellow once said to me, "I don't mind losing when we lose, but I hate losing when we win." People need hope that someone's on their side, that our democracy is not just a rigged game for insiders, that real change is possible. - The Hightower Lowdown, 2007
Dear Democrats in Elected Federal Office,
I refer to you that way because when I just say "Democrats", Chris reminds me that both of us are registered Democrats. And when I say "elected Democratic officials", he reminds me that this applies to him too, for a little while longer at least, and I shouldn't make sweeping generalizations about large groups of people. So having cleared that up at the beginning, let's just take it as read for the rest of this post that the term "Democrats" is going to be referring to you unless otherwise indicated, and as well, the word "you" is definitely referring to the parties aforementioned in the greeting.
I just wanted to ask you to please stop winning so many great, progressive victories on my account. I can beg, too, I'm not too proud.
|See, because all these victorious steps you've taken towards broadly shared prosperity are really bringing me down. I mean, way, way down. All those years I spent telling people that it was important to vote and wishing key demographics would show up at the polls, they make me feel like a chump. Because they all showed up and then most of them voted for you. And then you ... won all these great, progressive victories.
The majority of your hopeful voters may be right now too exhausted to have followed up closely on your progress - what with getting pay cuts, or getting eaten alive by wages not keeping up with inflation, or losing their jobs, or losing their homes, or having to go into bankruptcy because they couldn't afford their medical bills, or dealing with massive interest rate hikes, or trying to help friends and family in those situations, because that sh*t is all-consuming - but they're going to notice eventually that their vote for you didn't make their lives better. You can't ask someone to believe you over their lying pink slip.
And you won't make things better because you don't work for us. You work for ExxonMobil, Blue Cross and Goldman Sachs, who are all stealing from us and making our lives worse. You can't work for the people who are stealing from the public and serve the needs of the public at the same time. A House divided against itself must fall, you cannot serve the voters and Mammon, etc., as they say. It doesn't matter anymore if some of you want to, or would if you could, because you didn't and evidently can't.
Someone recently worried in my hearing that not enough was being done to encourage people to register to vote, because that was the most important thing we could do for cause X. But it seems plain to me now that it just isn't so.
Maybe it's cynical and defeatist to say it, but I don't think it's useful to lie anymore, as if you were good faith representatives of the public interest. Not even to save us from the dread bane of cynicism. I hope you'll also pardon me, for example, for encouraging cynicism among people expecting to walk out of a casino with more money than they went in with.
What I'm certain of is that if an illusion must be maintained at all costs, it will eventually cost everything.
It's already cost us affordable health care, and likely much of women's access to reproductive healthcare, in your proposed insurance reform. Like many other registered Democratic voters, my plan for health care reform, or health insurance reform, whatever, was to get you elected. Because you said you wanted it as much as I did. You had watched your own loved ones suffer, and heard the heartbreaking stories about people made to endure tremendous hardship or even death, at the hands of bureaucratic executioners working underwriting desks at Aetna, Cigna, etc. You told us you wanted to work for us and make the negotiations over reform transparent, because you were on our side.
And even if the bills you came up with are being hailed as must-pass progressive legislation, I think you know you lied to us about what you were going to deliver. You lied. There's no point pretending it isn't so, either to myself or anyone else. You just lied.
The stock market isn't lying about it. Health insurance stocks are up, because the people with a lot of money and power in this country know who won this fight. It wasn't me. It wasn't your typical voter. I might not be the equal of anyone in the investor class in your eyes, but I think I at least have the right to as much truth as they do, and they know you lied to me for their sakes. I'm sure they're very grateful.
I could go on about the bank bailouts, your disastrous bribes to polluters masked by trite pennies thrown at renewable energy, failed promises to the LGBT community, the abandonment of the unions, yadda, yadda, yadda. But why? You started selling us out when you took over Congress in 2006 and you never stopped, not with the trifecta, not with your damn 60 votes, not with the earth-shattering momentum of the most successful small-donor fundraising campaign in the history of the whole *ing world.
I don't know what to do about all this, even if I think that 'nothing' is definitely the wrong answer. But you're obviously not a group of people with the power to make good on promises to serve the public interest. So I doubt I could any longer say with a straight face that voting for you is any kind of top priority for any cause I care about, unless I should wake up tomorrow and decide that it's good for the country's moral fiber to mandate 30% interest rates. Maybe then.
Otherwise, please stop lying about how you're trying to help the typical citizen. Or do us one better and stop trying to help us. Do nothing, perhaps. Just show up to argue on the floor and make pretty speeches now and again, but then after, deposit your paycheck, enjoy your private physicians' attention, attend your corporate-sponsored legislative retreats, cower before your politically powerful clergy a little longer so you can pretend you have values, and spend more time with your families. Or your Family. Whatever.
But my threshold for watching you win at things is getting ground down fast. I don't know how much more of this I can take. So please, please, just cut it out already.
In abject obeisance,
A totally insignificant voter