The following is a slightly longer version of my letter to The White House.
I’ll be 65 in a few days. I’ve seen and experienced parts of America’s history which you may have only read about. Also since October of 2005, I’ve been reading and writing about the changes in America’s politics during my life time.
I started out as a Texas Young Republican working on the Nixon campaign when Democrats ruled the state. In those times, the Republicans had both liberal and conservative members. My wife and I, we were dating at the time, almost broke up over Nixon vs Nelson Rockefeller for president. There were no right-wing extremists to be seen.
Since then Lewis Powell wrote The Powell Memo for the US Chamber of Commerce and advanced the corporate effort to undo all aspects of the common good for the sake of corporate profit. Also, the Republican Party has become more extreme, more expert at messaging, more homogenous, and more authoritarian while the Democrat Party has lost its way and only denies the right-wing messaging instead of talking progressive moral values.
So, even though citizens as a whole have stayed just slightly left of center over this time, both major political parties have moved to the right, have supported unfunded wars, have put corporations above citizens, and have let our national moral standards become as low as our enemies.
We are now controlled by an extreme right-wing minority nationally and in most states. If Congress weren’t so right-wing, we could have had medicare for all. If the electoral college were based on red/blue counties, you would not have been reelected.
My point is that politicians, as a whole, no longer represent the needs of American citizens and that if you are trying to play middle of the road, you are still too far to the right of the average American. I don’t think you have the perspective from inside the beltway to recognize that your right-leaning actions, as represented by some of your appointments, speak louder than your left-leaning words.
Please, stop adding, and reduce the number of, pro-corporate representatives in your Administration. Please, replace the unitary executive with the rule of law – not legal interpretations to suit a particular end. Please, don’t allow the Keystone XL pipeline – let the dirty energy industry move the Canadian sludge by other means. Please, nationalize the banks that are too big to prosecute and replace the pro-corporate members of the Federal Reserve with those less concerned about what’s best for these banks and more concerned about those who lost big in the Great Recession. Please protect and improve our safety net and emphasize that revenue has become the problem over the last three decades thanks to excessive take cuts for the rich.
The nation is further to the left than the supposed center inside the beltway. Please support the left of center as represented by those who elected you to office.
Thank you for your service and consideration.
The American social safety net is more porous than that afforded to citizens in many other high-income economies and the social contract is weaker. And in the effort to curtail the U.S. government debt, the support provided to average Americans who are unemployed, poor, or in need of health insurance and pensions may be further reduced. Americans oppose such cuts in social services. But they also oppose most other efforts to reduce the debt, while supporting debt reduction in principle. And they remain uncertain about the role government should play in the provision of health care, old age insurance and the like.
Public ambivalence about the social safety net suggests the United States will never provide its citizens with support comparable to that provided to citizens of Germany or Scandinavia. At the same time, Americans value the social safety net that exists and do not want it changed.
Americans do have a social contract with each other and with their government. But this bond is currently under great strain. Americans’ conflicting values and goals and deep partisan divisions over the specifics of the social safety net, along with worries about how to pay for it, suggest that the tensions surrounding the social contract will continue for some time.