An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

by Angie Still 3 years ago in opinion

From a Concerned Party Member

An Open Letter to the Democratic Party

When I was a child, I was at my grandparents' house one weekend and I witnessed my grandmother yell an obscenity at my grandfather. It scared me and I began to cry. As she redirected her energy toward comforting me, I asked her why she was so mad at Pop Pop. She replied, "Pop Pop is a stinky Republican and it just makes Mimi so mad because she is a smart Democrat."

I asked, "What's a Republican?"

She sighed. "A Republican is someone who thinks that if you have 10 cookies and you have 10 people, giving 5 cookies to 2 of those people will somehow feed the other 8. They don't like for things to be fair."

I frowned. "Well, what's a Democrat?"

She smiled. "A Democrat believes that all 10 people should each have a cookie. They like things to be fair."

I thought for a minute. "Mimi, what if a Republican gave me 5 cookies. Shouldn't I share?"

"Does everyone at your school share?" she asked.

"No," I replied, thinking about a couple of kids who were selfish with toys and art supplies.

"Well, that's the problem. Not everyone shares, and then some people don't have cookies and some others get fat," she replied.

"Well then I guess I'll be a Democrat," I decided. "Because I want to eat a cookie but I don't want to get fat."

And so, at the age of 6, I chose my political party. I am now 46 and I am proud of the fact that being a Democrat puts me in the company of Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry Truman...all leaders who believed that all Americans should be given equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. These were people who stood by their principles and believed that having a strong middle class made our country great. They fought for the rights of marginalized Americans and created programs that helped the poor.

In short, they cared. They saw Injustice and they did something about it. They changed our country for the better.

Today, I barely recognize my party. I do not know when the party decided to become a group of moderate, elitist fart sniffers with a weak platform that simply points a finger at the other party and says, "Well at least we aren't those guys!" Most of you come across as condescending and out-of-touch assholes who think you know what's best. Your overconfidence lost the 2016 election. We as Americans lost. And we didn't lose to a strong contender - we lost to the most vile, repulsive human being the GOP could find. That was your doing.

None of you listened. And even with the worst case scenario happening right before our very eyes, you've still got your hands over your ears hollering about Russia, threatening us with 4 more years of Trump, and looking for a pretty show pony named Kamala to run in 2020 because she'll pull in the women AND the minorities. When will you wake up and take some ownership? When will you get out of your own way?

Bernie Sanders was the best choice for the Democratic ticket in 2016. Out of nowhere, he came along and told us that we didn't have to settle for the crumbs and scraps the 1% threw at us. We could have a better life and we deserved better. Our children deserved free tuition. We shouldn't have to work two jobs to survive. We should get things that mattered for the taxes we paid. Bernie is a fighter with big ideas. He wasn't making empty promises - he had been saying these things for his entire scandal-free political career. He not only denounced Citizens United, he proved you could run a highly successful campaign with donations from regular people. Everything about Bernie was authentic and passionate. He was the one we wanted. He is still the one we want.

But you said, "I'm with her." Hillary Clinton - a moderate Democrat with a trail of corruption behind her. She was out-of-touch with common folks and wore pantsuits that cost more than most Americans made in six months. She was not very likable to most people. Yet it was her turn. So she became your queen.

You ignored the polls. You did every dirty, crooked, underhanded thing imaginable to steal the primaries from Bernie. And when you declared victory, you promised him that the DNC would work to adopt a more progressive platform. You promised him you'd put Berniecrats in prominent positions. And he endorsed your queen. Your queen, who polls showed was running neck and neck with a despicable excuse for a human. You chose to get behind her rather than win the election.

And now, after you've broken your promises to Bernie and chosen to stand on another finger pointing platform rather than one that matters. After you've dismissed Berniecrats from the DNC. After you've feigned dismay and shaken your head when he announced he'll continue to run for Senator re-election as an Independent, you get that smug look and say, "Well he was insincere. He isn't even a real Democrat."

Did you ever stop and think that maybe that's a good thing?

Bernie Sanders is nobody's bitch. He doesn't have to depend on big campaign contributions, he doesn't have to vote within party lines, he doesn't have to "mind his place." All he has to do is fight for the best interests of his constituents. And that's what makes him so appealing.

When was the last time any of you put up a real fight for the average American? You compromise instead of fight. A perfect example is the ACA. The original legislation was very good. In and of itself, it was a compromise because what was really wanted was single payer healthcare. You let the Republicans take it and create loopholes, booby traps, and allowed millions to slip through the cracks and remain uninsured. This should have been the moment that you did not relent. But instead, we, the American people, got a watered down, Republican version of healthcare that still got attacked by the GOP. You don't fight for us - you compromise and move to the right with the false notion that the reason the Republicans are in power is that there are more conservative Americans making up our population.

Let me assure you, this is not the case. The truth is the vast majority of Independents are progressive liberals who would rather not vote than vote for a Bible-thumping Republican or the Republican posing as a Democrat who doesn't even know where they stand on the issues because they're too busy trying to figure out what the other guys are doing. We want impassioned leaders who come out swinging. We want to see you flip your middle fingers in the faces of Big Pharma and Haliburton and tell them to shove their money up their greedy asses.

Until you are willing to listen...until you are willing to will keep getting the same GOP ass whipping in every election. And Americans will keep getting screwed.

The three top issues that the majority of Democrats are for are:

1) Single Payer Healthcare

2) $15/hr. Federal Minimum Wage

3) Free Public College

Let's break each of these down, shall we?

Single Payer Healthcare (SPHC)

Why do so many politicians treat SPHC like it's some sort of radical concept that is as difficult as alchemy to achieve? Meanwhile, EVERY SINGLE OTHER DEVELOPED COUNTRY has this and has had some form of this for decades. Not one other country looks at our capitalist controlled model and says, "Wow, Americans sure are lucky!" They think we are some sort of monsters who force our citizens to go bankrupt or die if they have a health crisis. They pay more in taxes but they get quality healthcare (and so much more!) in exchange for their taxes. I think most Americans would like to get something besides corporate welfare and more war for their tax dollars. Americans pay more than any other country for healthcare but get far less. This is not acceptable. One underutilized selling point for SPHC is the benefits to businesses. For smaller businesses, they often lose out on getting the best candidates because they cannot match the benefits package, specifically health insurance, of bigger corporations. The more employees a company has, the less expensive the rates are for both the employee and employer. If SPHC was a reality, this would cease to be a factor and would help small businesses grow. As an HR professional, I have seen benefits people spend countless hours helping employees with denied claims, find specialists who take our insurance, talk to doctors to get a generic medication that will be covered, etc. It's exhausting. Without having to worry about health insurance, companies could spend more time on business. My advice is, rather than dismiss Bernie's plan as pure fantasy, get behind it and help develop the best SPHC in the world. One of the positive things about being the last is that you have the benefit of others' experiences. Assemble a team of medical professionals, administrators, economists, etc. and task them with the project of researching SPHC in other countries. Find out what would work in the US, what wouldn't work, problems that others had and how they overcame them, issues they still face and possible solutions. Gather with them and create the best SPHC the world has ever seen. We don't want an improved ACA. We know that with that kind of program, millions will still fall through the cracks and that is simply unacceptable. We, like the rest of the developed world, believe that capitalism has no place in decisions regarding our healthcare. We are tired of seeing GoFundMe pages for friends and loved ones trying to pay for chemotherapy. We are willing to trade a few F-150s if it means we won't go bankrupt if we get sick.

$15/hr Minimum Federal Wage

I recently saw Tom Perez being interviewed and he threatened 4 more years of Trump if we didn't adopt a more conservative platform and emphasized that we needed to focus on top priorities like jobs. While just about everything he said is wrong on multiple levels, I will address the "jobs" part. Currently, our unemployment sits at about 3.7%. That's very low, and the reason it's so low is that most of us have at least one job. Some of us have two or three - not because we love spending every waking moment at work. Like you, we enjoy spending time with our families or catching up with friends. But, unlike you, we must work two or three jobs to make ends meet. We would love to go back to school and get a better job but we can't afford tuition, much less taking time off to attend classes. So we don't dream. We don't have fun. We don't have hobbies. We work. We work for corporations that would pay us less than minimum wage if they could just to buy more of their own stock. The CEOs at our companies make multi-million dollar salaries but the company hasn't contributed one dime to our 401k's in years. If we have children, we hardly see them, much less actively raise them. We work. We provide their food, clothing, shelter, and that's about all we can afford. No, we don't want more jobs. We want to be normal and work 40 hours a week and have that be enough to pay all the bills and still eat. The only problem is we can't do that because, as the prices of everything like food, housing, cars, clothes, etc. have risen over the past nine years, the minimum wage has not. In fact, almost all wages have remained stagnant except for those paid to executives. Raising the minimum wage is long overdue. The arguments against it are: (1) Small businesses would be negatively affected. I will quote FDR as my rebuttal: "No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country." (2) The cost of everything would skyrocket and this would cancel the benefits of a higher minimum wage. Actually, that is false. When lower and middle-class citizens have money, they spend it. They pump money into the economy and increase consumerism. In reality, giving more money to the very wealthy is what negatively affects the economy because they save it, invest it, or buy more of their company stock. (3) The number of jobs would dramatically decrease. While that may be somewhat true, when you consider that over a third of Americans are working more than one job, this would make the decrease in jobs less extreme because people could quit one or two of their three jobs. History has shown that, while job numbers drop initially after raising the minimum wage, they steadily ascend back to normal numbers once employers adapt.

Free Tuition for Public Colleges and Universities

I am the mother of 3 children. One child just graduated college, one is a year away from graduation, and the other just started. My daughter who just graduated attended a small, private college and paid a significant portion of her tuition, room & board, books, etc. with scholarships, Pell grants, and a state program for high performing high school graduates called TOPS. She still took out almost $30,000 in student loans. She recently got her first job that's in her field and it pays $12/hr. That's less than $25,000/year. She's lucky because her student loan debt is comparatively small compared to others. I worry that the job she just accepted will not lead to better opportunities with experience. I know the job market, and people are unwilling to pay for experiencebecause they can get it for cheap. My child who is a year from graduating recently had to sit out a semester because of anxiety and debilitating panic attacks. One of the sources of her stress: the amount of debt she has acquired trying to get a degree. She attends a public university and has $56,000 in debt with two semesters remaining. My child who just started did not even want to further his education because he's researched the debt vs. the reward and, to him, it seemed like a huge risk. We finally convinced him to start at a community college and he received $4,000 for the year in Pell Grant money and took out $6,000 in loans. Nothing in this country, besides CEO salaries, has risen higher and faster than the costs of getting a degree. Graduates should feel proud of their accomplishment and ready to start an exciting chapter of their lives upon graduating. Instead, there is an overwhelming dread under the weight of debt and a constant fear that the entry-level salary won't be enough to pay loans, bills, and eat. A high school diploma is no longer sufficient to get a decent job in this world. It is unfair to saddle our graduates with extraordinary debt before they even start their careers. Again, perhaps we could forgo a couple of drone strikes or not eliminate the estate tax and pay tuition for the generation who will one day take care of us.

For any Democrat to deny or ignore the fact that these issues are important to average Americans indicates that you are one or more of the following:

- Pathetically out of touch with the struggles faced in order to survive.

- Beholden to your campaign donors and care more about your own well-being than the American family.

- Like your GOP counterparts, believe that working Americans do not deserve things to just be "given" to them, as if our taxes don't entitle us to something of actual value.

Mr. Perez's comments show, once again, that the Democratic Party has no other platform but to threaten our citizens with Trump, shift to the right, and piggyback on the GOP's promise of more jobs. Mr. Perez, we were threatened with Trump last year. It didn't convince anyone to jump on the Democrat bus then, nor will it work now. Many Americans want to see both parties completely implode and Trump is the perfect catalyst. Moderation is failure. The fact that you use "jobs" as part of your platform shows that you are just as out of touch as your pals across the aisle.

I am not surprised by the failure to generate a progressive platform. Most of you are wealthy and very few of you have struggled. You're ignorant to the real world where most of us live. You cannot comprehend living paycheck to paycheck. You don't understand that we have no savings and we are two paychecks away from homelessness. Anything that is an unplanned expense, like a car repair or taking time off to care for a kid with strep throat, can sink us. We live in constant dread of what might happen. Most of us cannot get credit cards, and if we qualify, the interest is high and the limit is low. We have had to take out payday loans or title loans on our vehicles only to sink further when the repayment was almost as much as the loan we got. We do not dream of owning a home because we can't save for the down payment. And even if we could, owning a home carries risks and expenses we can't afford, like new roofs, busted water heaters, or termites. Our children don't ask for anything extra because "no" is the only answer they hear. We try to be self-sufficient and not go on welfare but sometimes food stamps become essential for survival. We aren't eligible for TANF and, if we do qualify for Section 8, we cannot find a landlord in a decent neighborhood that accepts it. We work hard. Too hard. We cry sometimes driving home from our second job and wonder why we were put on this Earth if all we ever do is work at jobs we don't like and sleep. We wonder if anyone cares. If we die, would it even matter?

I am begging you to step up and be the party of the people. Please care about us. If you truly want to win, you must get behind Bernie Sanders and, in return, you will get the love and support of his fan base which includes 69% of millennials, 82% of minorities, and a majority of Independents. As the GOP begins to crumble with Trump's plummeting approval rate, the DNC has the unique opportunity to take over both houses and the presidency by 2020 and continue to win elections for decades. The path to victory is clearly right in front of your eyes. Kamala Harris is not the answer. Joe Biden is not the best choice. Bernie Sanders is who we want. Don't let pride and arrogance be your downfall. Be the party that gives everyone a cookie.

Angie Still
Angie Still
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