US Politics

Dear Democrats: Don’t Screw This Up

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In my life, there has been one election night that matched last night for me: the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, the first time I was able to vote for President. I believed in Bill, made phone calls for him in Montana, drove at breakneck speeds to see him speak to a SRO crowd in Billings, and huddled around the TV for results the night of his election. I believed in Bill Clinton, because after twelve years of Republican rule, I wanted to believe that government could be a positive force, that it could serve the interests of the people, not the powerful. I was proud to have supported Bil Clinton, and overwhelmed when he won.

Then he betrayed me. After mismanaging health care and losing the midterms, Clinton triangulated himself right into a Republican presidency to stay in power. I couldn’t even bring myself to vote for him in 1996 because I was ashamed to have been duped so badly. I feel overwhelmingly positive about the new members of the Senate and House, and the agenda for change they brought to the American public, but I won’t be fooled again. The time for talk has ended; the new Congress needs to act.

The wave that swept this nation on Tuesday night was a call to action from the people. We’re tired of a timid, rubber-stamping, corporate Congress. We elected you to be our voice, to represent the people and to make the corporations and special interests wait in line. We gave you our support and our votes, and now we want you to:

  • Investigate the war, and demand answers
  • Clean up Washington, and pass real lobbying reform
  • Stop buying our votes with our own money, and end earmarks
  • Reform energy policy, and promote renewable, local sources of energy
  • Make health care affordable, and stop giving breaks to pharmaceuticals
  • Give the working a poor a chance, and raise the minimum wage

That’s an ambitious agenda, maybe even too ambitious. The president might veto you. Fox News might call you liberals. The major corporations that buy government in this country might turn against you. None of that matters. You’ve promised to take our country back, and we won’t settle for anything less. The people who helped bring this wave about tonight aren’t loyal to a party; we’re loyal to the principle that government serves its people

Congratulations on an amazing, inspiring campaign. This country desperately needed it.  Now we need you to be men and womyn of your word, and we’ll be watching to see that you are.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

7 Comments

  • so give me some solid hope, how does this really help a working stiff? What income range of folks in the US are the Demos going to serve? Do I have to live in rural or suburbia America? I am 50 yrs old and don’t believe in either party, one swing then another. I personally don’t things have been that bad. No I am not happy about the war, but I am happy about independence or a chance for IRAQ independence. I don’t know the best way to achieve that and I haven’t heard a canidate yet with another plan to help IRAQ. I am just a normal guy with conservative values, who believes in focusing on what is good, right and helps others.

    I just don’t see the point here in how THIS change is going to help most Americans or other countries. It isn’t the government or which party is in charge, it is the people. One misstep and we will be all over the DEMS like we were the Rep’s.

  • Amen, Pogie.

    Let me add that in reality ‘we’ have won nothing, yet. The win will come when things start to change. I’d argue that a lot of the needed change will not happen until people realize and go after one of the big root causes of evils in our system, corporate personhood. For people who have not heard or do not understand the issue I’d suggest reading Thom Hartman’s ‘Unequal Protection.’ As long as corporations get to claim constitutional rights as if they were human the rest of us are screwed and our government will be bought and sold.

  • granny
    I hear you, but who’s next. The tormentors torment, that is what they do.

    health care? We have the best and most affordable HC in the world. It ain’t free but HC can be had by most folks.

    Who helps Katrina victims? Which ones want to be helped? If you have been down there it sure isn’t ANY government. People who left their jobs, people who probably couldn’t afford to be there.

    I hate the fact that the war in IRAQ has become an unpopular war. I have read many letters from our fellow countrymen who served, met several young men and women who have gone and come back. My heart aches for them, they have served a cause they belived in and it wasn’t a republican cause. Shame on any of us who make them feel like it was for naught, in any way.

    Serve your community, your church, your schools, fight for teacher and police pay raises and better systems for our kids. Systems that bring accountability and honor to those who are willing to put forth effort. Encourage those who aren’t. No polictical party is going to affect changes that we need at a grass roots level. I pray for change, I hope that dems bring fresh wind, not a 40 year old stale breeze.

    Those 6 bullets on the original post, I could have posted those for the last 20 elections and they would have been true about each former regime in power.

    Bob Dylan was way wrong, Aaah the times, they are not changin…

  • Well one thing they may well do – raise the minimum wage. If minimum wage rose at the same rate as corporate salaries, it’d be at 26 dollars. That would immediately help not only the poorest, but those whose wages would likewise increase in response. And this would be a real increase, in increase relative to the richest Americans.
    Also, another glaring issue that Democrats can change quickly – let Medicaid and Medicare bargain collectively to get lower prices on drugs. Oh, and increase the availability of contraception. And abolish corporate personhood. All changes to benefit the US that you won’t see under any Republican administration.

    Oh, and god forbid we hurt the feelings of our soldiers. Better to bring them home and tell them they risked their lives for a cause they shouldn’t have had to risk their lives for, than to force them to keep risking their lives under the guise of a worthy cause. They’re not stupid; they’ll figure it out one way or another that they shouldn’t have to fight a war dreamt up by men who have never fought a war.

  • Wolfman, If the Dems raise the minimum wage to $26.00 an hour or more than 30% in the next 6 years, well then it will be a cold day in … I am for it, rock n roll. Wouldn’t it be even better than giving someone a fish to teach them how to fish. Why was minimum wage put into effect in the first place. Do you really think we need a minimum wage? How bout making it harder to obtain credit and once you do harder to lose your credit rating since a credit rating is beginning to have so much bearing on peoples background these days.

    Good idea about the collective bargaining, I hope this happens. I didn’t realize obtaining ontraception was an issue. But I would love to hear a candidate put that one on the list. 🙂 Now that would be a fun campaign to be involved in.

    I hate war and most people do. I love freedom and most people take it for granted. Bush didn’t have all the answers, none of us will. What is the answer to a situation of tyranny that is killing innocent people, and aiding an effort to terrorize and kill abroad. Embargo’s, isolationism, what works? How do you help people who are being slaughtered because they disagree with a regime. Should we stand by and let that happen? Is that the right thing to do? On a personal level, if you saw a one person beating another to death, what would you do? Are we acusing Bush of taking us to war because American corporations needed some way to increase profits? I am sorry I can’t go along with that idea.

    What I am saying is that political parties can’t and won’t fix the things that matter to us in smalltown USA. It has to be you and me.

    Maybe the dems will enact a service blog law and make it mandatory to perform 20 hours of community service per 1 hour of blog time.

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