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September 5, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)
An open letter to Congressional Democrats and President Obama:
Political winds blow unfavorably to the run-up of November elections for Democrats. You are besieged on every side by an angry and hostile opposition that has launched a scorched earth policy and promises to take no prisoners, but I have hope.
These are grim and trying times; times when our nation is entangled in a war against terrorism and a time when we are held hostage in that war by our own fear. These are times when financial hoarding is common behavior on Wall Street at a time when too many of your constituents remain stranded on unemployment lines.
The outlook is bleak. These are times when millions more of your constituents have lost hope of ever having a meaningful job again and countless others find themselves trapped in a deep fissure created by time and circumstance—too old to continue work and too poor to retire.
You, every ballot tested Democrat that has earned your way to Washington, understands the political signs. Misfortune seems your lot. That bastion of democracy, the House of Representatives, is predicted lost and that once super majority in the United States Senate shall be reduced to barely a simple majority come the New Year.
Despite necessary—even noble efforts—to stem a world-wide financial melt down—to reform health care in America—to stimulate the economy and save the American automobile industry Democrats will not be long remembered for these things. Democrats will be remembered for losing one or both Houses of Congress while abandoning their past and neglecting their country..
In the starkest of terms the very future of our country, our way of life is at stake by the outcome of the elections in November. Make no mistake; when the Tea Party/Republicans control government America will change.
Tea Party/Republicans have said they will end Social Security, privatize it at best, eliminate food stamps, end unemployment compensation, abolish the education department and eliminate government funding for education. They boldly predict an end to Obama Care—the framework for real health care reform and shut down the government.
How can the party—the Democratic Party—the political party that in my lifetime implemented one of the most successful social programs in American history forget their past?. No other program has pulled so many families from the pains of poverty as Social Security. No other program has improved the health and lengthened the life span of its recipients as has Medicare and Medicaid. Programs for women, infants and children, food stamps whose ultimate benefactor are America’s farmers, educational programs—tuition assistance, government loans and grants for higher education all carry the stamp of Democratic politicians.
It was a Democratic President—Harry S. Truman who with the stroke of a pen in 1948 ordered our military to desegregate—to provide the opportunity for a young, black Lieutenant named Colin Powell to become a four star general and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Another Democrat, Lyndon Baines Johnson knowingly and willingly signed legislation that ended Democratic control of politics in the South. His deliberate action ended one hundred years of coldly brutal Jim Crow segregation that routinely saw blacks deprived of life and liberty.
Democrats have been in the forefront of so much that is good in our country and for our country. Democrats need not apologize for Social Security or Medicaid or Medicare. Democrats need not cringe when the opposition hurls charges of socialism or extravagant excess.
Democrats seem to lack passion—even for the most trivial of issues. Democrats that once fought for the poor and downtrodden and who became a champion of the workingman hardly blinked an eye when Republicans led by Newt Gingrich began to call the Democratic Party the Democrat Party.
The time has come for Democrats to shed their apprehension and recognize the obvious. Your situation is clear—even with the most generous prognostications many of you will not return to Washington. However, your country desperately needs you today.
Take a page from the ancient battle of Thermopylae in 480BC, you might have seen the movie, where Leonidas and 300 Spartans fought a rear guard action that to this day stands as a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds. Your countrymen and your country needs the Democrats to take a stand for what is principled and just.
Join arms, three hundred strong (269 plus President Obama is the minimum), stand on the Capitol steps and pledge to your fellow Americans that as Democrats you will by pass the filibuster in the Senate, close the donut hole in Part D of Medicare and provide a public option for health insurance before the end of the year.
Pledge to your fellow Americans that as Democrats you will create a real jobs bill that begins immediately to rebuild our infrastructure—our roads and bridges and restores the Mississippi Delta. Pass lame duck legislation that would have high speed rails crisscrossing this nation with concrete and steel.
Be proud of your Democratic heritage—by pass the filibuster and do what is right for the nation. Let my grandchildren’s grandchildren proudly recall that it was a determined group of Democrats who stood together regardless of an election when the future of America stood in the balance. I can only have hope.
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