An open letter to the new Democratic Party members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
Congratulations on achieving a monumental victory! You flipped 40 Republican Party seats and sent a lot of mossbacks packing. Now, you are in control of the lower chamber, ready for work.
One thing I would caution you about, however.
Do not obsess over impeaching the president. As delicious as this would be, it is an exercise in futility. The Republicans in the U.S. Senate, craven cowards all, will line up, one by one, to kiss Donald J. Trump’s backside rather than send him packing. Investigate him, yes, but the goal should be to make him a one-term president. Instead, you should attend to the issues that We the People sent you to Washington, D.C. to deal with in the first place.
Here is a to-do list (in no particular order) which desperately needs your attention:
• Single-payer health care. Many of you campaigned on this issue, so I’ll just remind you to stay the course. It includes efforts to negotiate prescription-drug prices for all Medicaid recipients.
• Sensible immigration reforms. In a nutshell, do just the opposite of what the Donald Trump administration has been doing. Don’t stop at abolishing ICE; get rid of the Department of Homeland Security (America’s version of the old Soviet KGB) altogether, and hey! No Wall!
• Voting rights. This means automatic voter registration when a citizen turns 18 years of age. Ban all restrictions which make it hard for those qualified to vote. Establish a national bipartisan commission to re-draw congressional maps in all states so that no political party has an unfair advantage over others.
• Foreign wars. The U.S. Constitution states that only Congress can declare war. Any war-power acts which give presidents free reign are therefore unconstitutional. Take back your authority and tell the president to withdraw all American military forces from foreign war theaters.
• Infrastructure. The president promised, but has not actualized, a plan to repair/re-build our crumbling roads, bridges, dams, airports, seaports. You should create a new version of the Roosevelt-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) to hire the unemployed to address this problem.
• Minimum wage. Fight for $15! ‘Nuff said!
• Student debt. Inasmuch as most student debt involves government agencies, it is a simple matter to pass a resolution to cancel that debt. And you should crack down on for-profit colleges which crank out bogus diplomas in exchange for student debt.
• Education reform. Repair our crumbling schools and give teachers a raise by ceasing to give tax dollars to charter schools. Create curricula which make children eager to go to school.
• Sensible gun control. Let’s start with universal background checks and coordinated reporting from law-enforcement agencies and the mental-health community. Pass legislation requiring, which Illinois does, all gun owners to have a firearms owner identification card. It includes the purchase of ammunition. Then you can ban the sale of all military-style weapons and their parts.
• Financial protection. Restore the Dodd-Frank Act to its former incarnation. Create a new version of the Glass-Steagall Act. And strengthen the hand of the Consumers Financial Protection Bureau.
• The environment. Undo everything the Trump administration has done concerning the protection of our public lands, particularly extractive activities. Restore the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. And re-embrace the Paris climate accords.
• Police violence. Pass legislation making it a Federal crime for police officers to kill unarmed civilians.
• Gender identity. Incorporate this issue into all anti-discrimination language.
That’s a lot on your plate, boys and girls, but I know that you’re ready for it. You campaigned with great energy and enthusiasm. You had a mission and a purpose to push you toward the finish line in the recent election. Now is your opportunity to make America truly great again. Ad futura!
Just a thought.