h/t to the unknown artist who took this photo

To: Democratic National Committee Washington DC

From: Carrie Ballard, American citizen living in Europe

Date: May 16, 2017

Dear Democrats.

I am reading that Democratic members of Congress are celebrating the defeat of the attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act. I read that the DNC is running focus groups in states and areas where Hillary Clinton got more votes but Republicans took the legislative positions. All about winning, all about “us,” those who count themselves as left of center or Democrats. I also see millions of normal citizens shouting and marching and organizing — not following you.

I read nothing from you about contrition, humility — only about how to retake Congress. I read nothing about listening, about taking a deep breath and shutting up and talking with people. Especially the people who dislike Democrats. The people you let down. The people who won’t vote for Democrats because they don’t see you walking the talk, or even talking any talk that appeals to their situations.

The reasons people feel so fed up with Democrats and so sad, beaten, and frustrated at their worsening situations are becoming clearer. Those who voted for 45 also feel disrespected, as if their situations are their fault and élites blame them. The economy does not work for them, their basic standard of living risks slipping or has slipped already, their children will be worse off.

Want to break the pattern? Go radical. Ask Hillary Clinton to go on tour in conservative states (in full body armor!) and listen to people. Get other Democrats traveling too. Open to all comers, invite people who voted for the current president. The posters might read

I’m sorry. That’s what I am coming to say. I did not hear you. Democrats did not hear you. We see now. We apologize. Will you give us a chance? We want to listen.

Then build a movement around responses to those stories that you hear directly from people who are in difficult situations. Bernie Sanders only had to repeat people’s pain and propose clear alternative policies to gain millions of committed supporters for a progressive platform. Millions are joining protest and pressure groups — without you.

You will fail and deserve to fail unless you do something radical to show you listen and you understand. Republicans can’t govern, as we are seeing — but you can. But you can’t get the chance by leaving millions behind. As Joe Biden supposedly said, “These are good folks, man!” Hell, even I won’t support your candidates if you continue to focus on only big donors, no mojo, no “real life stories,” no inclusion of white working class folks, and no guts. You need to lead, you have serious work to do — like warn the public about climate change so work can start — how are you going to do that if you have no cred with them? You need to listen, hone your approach based on what you hear, then lead.

France repudiated both major parties. The US voters (enough of them) threw themselves recklessly behind a dangerous clown. What is going to happen to you in 2018 if there is nothing new coming from you?

Sincerely,

Carrie Ballard

American living in the Netherlands