An Open Letter to My Representative, My Senators, and the Rest of the Democratic Party

Maryland Boundaries
"Maryland Boundaries" by phil_g on flickr

Mr. Cardin, Ms. Mikulski, Mr. Cummings, et al:

It is with a heavy heart and, sadly, a lack of surprise that I find myself drafting this missive.  To put it quite simply: if Democrats, and especially those who are supposedly my representatives in the U.S. Congress, choose to vote for cuts to the social safety net, I will never support another Democrat so long as I live.  In fact, I will do anything within reason to encourage anyone who will listen to abandon the party which has abandoned their values.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should state up front that I am not, in fact, a registered Democrat (nor am I a Republican).  That said, I have generally in my life had cause to vote for Democrats, either in the name of preventing the election of dangerous conservatives (see Ehrlich, Robert) or to support the rare and precious progressive who represents the party (such as Mr. Cummings, who is my Congressman).  In the past one could probably convince me that while Democrats were not necessarily as benevolent as Socialists or Greens, they were a firewall against the destructive nature of conservative policies.  Over the past few years, however, this has ceased to be the case.

The recent “negotiations” surrounding the debt ceiling have exposed, once and for all, the Democratic Party’s complete abandonment of their own platform and the values that they are supposed to stand for.  The representatives of my own beloved Maryland, perhaps the bluest state in the union, have failed to take a firm stand against austerity and reason and instead have accepted the President’s cowardly capitulation to anti-government extremists as an acceptable inevitability.

Senator Benjamin Cardin, with a 97.40 Progressive Punch score, has endorsed the discredited idea that somehow cutting back government spending during a recession is a reasonable proposition. Is this the best I can expect from one of the most “liberal” members of the Senate from one of the most liberal states in the nation?  Instead of meekly accepting the conservative Senator Conrad’s framing of the need to cut spending, perhaps Mr. Cardin could have simply said “Let us have a clean vote on the debt ceiling, period, end of sentence.”  In fact, for all intents and purposes, that’s been offered by the alleged minority party. The President and Senate Democrats have failed to seize this victory from the jaws of defeat in the interest of implementing uncalled for and unpopular cuts to spending.

Meanwhile, my other two voices in the legislative branch, Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congressman Elijah Cummings have been largely silent on the matter.  A cursory google search shows that Mr. Cummings hasn’t been bothered to address the topic in weeks.  Regardless, one or all of these supposedly liberal politicians should be screaming from the rooftops that they will oppose both the Republican party and the President, who literally wants to make as many destructive cuts as possible in the name of pursuing “bipartisanship”.  Thus far I have yet to hear a Maryland Democratic voice willing to tell the President that, in no uncertain terms, they will not support the slashing of the social safety net to rectify a budget gap which can be attributed almost in its entirety to this nation’s upper class.

Let there be no mistake, the budget “crisis” we face today is completely on the heads of the so-called “Masters of the Universe” who run the country’s financial system, with secondary credit going to the conservative political system (both parties) which, to this day, has refused to hold accountable the grifters who have wreaked so much damage.  While our weak-willed President allows the debt ceiling to be held crisis and threatens to take a chainsaw to the federal budget, Goldman Sachs posted a $1.07 billion profit for the second quarter of 2011.  If the nation is broke, as the President and his bi-partisan allies continue to contend, perhaps we should look to an obvious source of revenues.

It is utter madness, and borderline treason, that none of my representatives in Congress have called for raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations.  Every single proposal put forth by either the President or the Congress has included at least twice as many cuts to spending as increases in revenue- one plan had a ratio of $5 in cuts for every $1 in revenue.  This is total lunacy, and it’s ridiculous that “liberal” politicians aren’t vociferously rejecting the idea that somehow austerity is not only acceptable, but desirable.

I won’t pretend to be surprised by this turn of events.  Since his inauguration, President Obama has sought not to challenge the critics who painted him as a bleeding-heart socialist, but to reassure them by proving them wrong.  A health care reform package negotiated in secret with hospitals and insurers, an expansion of prosecutions of whistle-blowers, and continued maneuvers to delay the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” were all simply prelude to the current betrayal of the Democratic Party’s base.

The 2008 Democratic Party platform states:

We believe that every American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surroundings, and to retire with dignity and security.

Based on this platform, Obama, Mikulski, Cardin and Cummings were all entrusted with the support of not only myself, but literally millions of progressives and liberals. The plans being endorsed by Mr. Obama and leading Democrats all fall short of living up to these ideals.  If, as seems likely, these “leaders” are willing to back the balancing of the budget on the backs of the poor and working class, they’ve lost the right to that trust.  Especially if this is done not under the auspices of an emergency, but done in the name of completing what was a mere procedural technicality just 3 years ago.

In conclusion, to those who claim to represent me in Congress and all of their cohorts in the Democratic party, I say without hesitation or trepidation: either stand up against the cruelty and pointlessness of austerity, or go to Hell.

 

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