October 7, 2011
Dear Senator Murray and Congresswoman Pelosi:
This morning in the mail I received a solicitation for money from the respective campaign committees which you each chair, along with a questionnaire asking for my opinion on a range of issues. (I get them every week, it seems, since I'm obviously known as a steady contributor.)
I didn’t bother to fill the questionnaire out, as I figured it was not much more than other mailings I have received from the Democratic Party. My votes over the years express my opinion better than questions whose answers you probably already know.
You forgot, intentionally or otherwise, to ask the key question: Is the Democratic Party representing my interests?
The short answer, of course is a resounding No!.
President Reagan liked to state as often as possible how, when he was a Democrat, the party had left him.
Well, that is how I feel. And because I feel the way I do, I’m not sending the party a dime until I see some backbone. If withholding my contribution, and those of other ordinary Democrats who feel similarly means that the party will suffer again at the polls, well, so be it.
For the last 30 years, the Democrats have abandoned the very people who have nothing approaching the kind of influence the Republicans, with their bottomless funds from the rich and corporate interests have and use to affect our politics for their personal benefit.
You stood by while Congress and successive presidents, from Reagan, to Clinton, to both Bushes, systematically took down or failed to enforce one regulation after another – of business, of telecommunications, of the environment, of banking, of finance.
My couple of bucks are nothing compared to the millions the Democratic Party takes from Wall St. and banking lobbyists, year in and year out. 135 former Congressmen and their senior staffers are now lobbyists for the banking and finance industry. (Michael Oxley, whose name is part of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley bill, for example, is now a lobbyists for the NASDAQ!) You are now more beholden to the "Big Six" of American finance (Goldman, Citi, B of A, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase) than you are to me and 300 million other Americans. These banks control assets equivalent of 60% of the American GDP. This revolving door of powerbrokers and the Democratic Party's taking of finance industry money has effectively blunted any chance of meaningful reform of the finance industry.
3 years after the financial meltdown there has been no change - none - in how banks conduct themselves. We are still at the mercy of a banking oligarchy, who continue their resistance to reform with all the money at their disposal.
You stood by, while every one of the plutocrats on Wall St. took taxpayer money - which you voted to hand over to them - to cover their excesses and returned absolutely nothing to those of us who have lost our jobs, our savings, our homes, our retirement funds, and whose children cannot afford college or, having graduated college, cannot find work.
You stood by, afraid, as we got entangled in an unneeded war in Iraq, costing the lives of thousands of our young and trillions in treasure.
You stood by as one American company after another has moved its manufacturing and service jobs to places where American workers simply cannot compete head to head, which has resulted in declining real wages at home for what jobs are left to us.
You stood by as appointments to the Supreme Court during the terms of both Bushes have resulted in a mockery of "equality before the law;" indeed recent events concerning Justice Scalia, Justice Roberts and Justice Thomas have demonstrated that all three should be impeached for lying under oath.
You have allowed cheap foreign goods into the country free of duties and tariffs with which to protect domestic manufactures, all in the interest of the “globalization” of worldwide trade. This has resulted in a hemorrhaging of dollars to cheap wage countries, and a continuing trade deficit and leaving the American manufacturing sector as nothing more than a pile of bleached bones of shuttered factories everywhere.
You have allowed your opposition, the Republican Party, to define yourselves and to define important issues up and down the line. You have allowed the Republican Party to divide and conquer the people. The Republican Party, since the Civil War, has always represented the monied and business class. I expect no less from it. But you are supposed to be my voice for fairness. You no longer are.
I could go on but I won’t.
You see, as leaders, you have an enormous bullhorn with which to influence public opinion; indeed to marshal it. Yet, the entire Democratic Party leadership and most of the congressional rank and file have been nearly mute in the face of one crisis after another. You have remained silent in the face of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression; the largest transfer of personal wealth in human history. I believe this silence is due to the Democratic Party’s fear of taking a principled stand.
And, in all honesty, I’ve had enough!
The current grassroots pushback being demonstrated in city after city is proof positive that I am not alone. I join with the thousands in the streets of a dozen cities in saying “a pox on both their houses” and, until I see some real signs of the Democratic Party returning to the traditional values of standing up for the 99% of us who suffer from the excesses of those with limitless money and influence with you - we, who are being reduced to a subsistence life - I will no longer participate.
"Either lead or get out of the way" is more apt a phrase than it's ever been. One way or another, real change is coming. It may take a while longer; it may take yet more pain being inflicted on us in the years to come. I promise you, though, that it will not go on forever. The people of this country - right, left and center - are fed up with the gridlock, the posturing, the demagoguery, the finger pointing, and the lack of action.
So, in closing, you show me some action and I'll show you some money. But not until then.
Robert M. Burns (aka The Flylooper)