Letter 2 America for September 27, 2021

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Dear America,

I have been a Democrat all of my adult life, though that affiliation isn't rigid.  For example, I have voted for Republicans, like when I lived in Boston in the '70's when I voted for a Senator named Ed Brooke and a governor named Francis Sargent, though in both cases party affiliation had nothing to do with their political creeds.  I am an unabashed liberal, and party affiliation has been at most incidental to my voting decisions as I have seen it as nothing but a convenient way of identifying my political kindred spirits.  But now I see party affiliation in the cases of both parties as obstacles to American political action everywhere across the political spectrum.  The parties have facilitated the institution of arcane and personally self-serving house and senate rules and legislative practices, partly in the service of reelection and thus personal ambition, but part in service of the parties themselves--both parties--at the cost of service to the nation.  As a Democrat, I perceive that decline in what I think of as our "political morality" as rendering us no better than the Republicans, who made political morality an oxymoron.  Democratic machinations over President Biden's economic legislative packages make my point.

First is the fact that the two bills now floating about in the two houses of our congress are mammoth measures, hundreds, if not thousands of pages long comprising countless provisions that cannot be supported by any legislator except by casting a single wholesale vote for all.   Such bills used to be called "omnibus bills," but as such bills are now de rigueur,  no one even bothers with the designation.  The concept behind them is what used to be called "log rolling," more popularly known today as "quid pro quo."  It comes to this: forcing others to vote for your provision by tying it to their provisions--you can't get yours if I don't get mine.  I don't mind it so much in the cases of individual bills that serve specific constituencies.  It's still somewhat unsavory, but it is at least small scale as the lack of scruples is measured.  But these omnibus bills are of an entirely different consequence.  They don't just relate to parochial concerns; they interfere with the progress of our nation and our collective weal...and now my party is using the practice in internecine fashion.  One bill--a true infrastructure bill intended to do all kinds of indisputably, near-universal benefit for our people--has been passed by The Senate in what is today a uniquely, dare I say profoundly, bipartisan vote, 69 to 30.  It's good for everyone, so it passed overwhelmingly, and now it goes to The House, where Nancy Pelosi and the other members of her Democratic caucus refuse to vote on it until a second bill that you might call a human infrastructure bill is passed...by Democrats who have an albeit slim majority in their house.  The problem is that Pelosi won't call a vote to make everyone go on record, some for doing what their constituents will see as a bad thing that may even be dispositive of their next bids for reelection.  And so we, America, get nothing instead of what we need to change the direction of our society from downward to upward by uplifting those who have been unfairly deprived of much of what they need to prosper by what has become the American economic caste system.  I propose two solutions to this present legislative problem.

First, abandon the omnibus strategy and break the human infrastructure bill into smaller parts: one for provision of day care to families that can't earn enough to prosper because someone has to stay home with the children; one for universal higher education--community college--for all so that the education people need to qualify for jobs in our ever-evolving tech economy will be available to everyone; universal pre-school; climate mitigation and several more.  Then, schedule votes on all of the bills, including the bipartisan bill that The Senate just passed on physical infrastructure.  Let each of the intransigent political hacks cast his or her own fate with the voters instead of hiding behind a group of the like minded.  The alternative to getting everything shouldn't be getting nothing.  As the saying goes, half a loaf is better than none.  The Democrats should let the Republicans shoot themselves in the foot instead of firing their own foot-shooting pistol, which they have already drawn and cocked.

To put it all concisely, our political system has declined in its integrity and effectiveness profoundly over the past forty years since the days of Tip O'Neill's and Ronald Reagan's deal to refinance Social Security.  It's time for someone to stand for the principle that used to be behind aspiring to public office: public service.  Are you listening Nancy and Chuck?

Your friend,


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Wolf published on September 27, 2021 11:11 AM.

Letter 2 America for September 17, 2021 was the previous entry in this blog.

Letter 2 America for October 5, 2021 is the next entry in this blog.

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