(published on Blue Oregon 8/13/09 – www.blueoregon.com)
August 5, 2009
Mr. President (and Committee Members),
I recently received a mailing from you. You ask me to make a contribution “to help build grassroots support for action on the economy, health care, energy and education.” You ask if “you can count on me.”
Can you count on me? Yes, you can. You can count on me to hold you to your campaign promises and the party platform.
Will I make a contribution? Yes, I will. Here is my contribution:
It is time to stop trying to work with an opposition who is demonstrably unwilling to compromise, or even to have a conversation about the most important challenges of our time.
It is time to stand up and clearly state what needs to be done, how you are going to lead the country in doing those things, and who is helping and who is hindering.
We need to hear specific solutions, not vague generalities. We need you to voice those solutions clearly, and to invite the people and the legislators of this country to get behind you in achieving them. We need the Congress to stop fooling around and pass legislation that will implement serious change, and we need it now.
We know the problems.
Our economy is in tatters, largely because of unregulated speculation by a relatively few individuals and corporations, supported by years of de-regulation by the federal government. In a field where one of the basic principles is “the reward reflects the risk”, those who invested in the riskiest instruments were happy to receive the rewards when times were good, and were relieved of the losses when unlimited speculation resulted in the inevitable failures. Congress eliminated the risk at taxpayers’ expense. This is because most of our legislators and holders of high office have been sold to the highest bidder. It is time now for you to exhibit leadership in bringing to the forefront of public discussion the need for massive campaign reform, and the clear delineation of corporations as business entities, not people, with the rights and obligations of business, not the rights (without the obligations) of people, as is the case now. We need to become a nation of producers, not importers. We need meaningful, productive jobs. We need to narrow the growing gap between the rich and poor in this country. We need to eliminate the tax cuts for the wealthy, reestablish a truly progressive income tax system and re-institute an effective estate tax. We need to break up monopolies and business “too big to fail.” We need to regain control of our sovereignty by withdrawing from GATT, WTO and other international treaties and agreements that subjugate the will of the people to that of international corporations.
Alone in the world of “developed” nations, we have millions of our people who cannot access health care, and the number is growing rapidly. We know that health insurance is NOT health care. We know that single-payer health care systems work, and they work well. It is long past time that we institute single-payer health care in the United States. This would establish an indisputable legacy of the Democratic Party as the party of the people. Instead we get a conversation that does not even include single-payer. You started with a compromise, perhaps to be more inclusive, particularly of the Republicans. What you got was wholesale rejection by Republicans, and a number of Democrats backpedaling as fast as they can. Present a real single-payer plan, fight for it, and let those in Congress who will not support it, do so publicly. Then see what the mid-term elections bring us. How would you like to run for re-election as “the candidate who voted to deny you health care?”
There is no clear and simple solution to our energy problems, nor the energy problems of the rest of the world, but we do know some basic facts: We are fast approaching the end of cheap and easy to use energy, and there are no reasonable alternatives. Calculating life cycle energy flows, nuclear energy is an energy sink, not an energy source. Coal is so environmentally destructive that it should be eliminated as a fuel source as soon as possible. Using any combination of source materials and processes, biofuels are totally inadequate in volume to replace our present energy use. Any possible sustainable energy use will be significantly lower than our current consumption. The only successful strategies will be based on significantly lower aggregate energy use. This means, at the very least, re-localizing economies and vastly reducing transportation.
An educated public is essential to our democracy as well as to our economy. Full, free public education through college is the backbone of a productive and engaged populace.
You Asked, We Gave
The Democrats have, for years, asked for support “to regain a majority” in both houses of Congress and to take back the White House.
Well, now you have it all.
But the people of this country are seeing more of the same: more money to the wealthy, more control to the corporations, more caving in to radical conservatives, and the continuation of reprehensible policies of previous administrations that we were promised would end.
Now, It Is Your Turn
So far, Mr. President, you have continued to make great speeches, but you have not shown any leadership. If you want my help, or even my vote, both you and the Congress need to stand up for the principles and programs you promised. I speak only for myself, but I hear a multitude of others saying much the same things. And we all vote. I think we have seen an end to mass apathy among voters. The last election shows how many people can be connected with very little funding, without support from international corporations, and we have seen the results at the voting booths when we are.
Mr. President, now is the time for you and the Democratic leadership to lead. Make the changes needed, or at least fight for them. Stop trying to include those who have no wish to be included. Stop trying to compromise with those who will not compromise. Make the changes we need, and make them now. And do it very publicly. Let us see who is helping and who is not. Let us know what our representatives are actually doing, not just what they are saying.
And while you are at it, hold those in past administrations (and Members of Congress) accountable for their past actions at least to the same standards the average citizen would be. There should be indictments and trials going on.
Otherwise we will see another single-term President, a surge of ineffective third parties, another Republican controlled Congress, and even more devastation of our economy, our environment, and our democracy.
Stand up to big money! Stand up to corporate greed! Stand up for the principles the party once stood for! And do it now!
Yes, we can!