Beg Me Not to Kill You: An Invitation to My Constituents

Dear [VOTER],

The July Senate recess is a time I look forward to every year, when I have the honor of leaving the “swamp” of Washington behind for a few days and returning home to the state I love. It’s a time for town fairs and summer barbecues, for fireworks and family and friends. And, just as importantly, it’s a time when you — the constituents I serve every day, hard-working folks who have placed your trust in me to represent the best of our shared values — can meet me in person, shake my hand, share your dreams, and beg me not to kill you.

I know that the pending Senate healthcare bill is weighing on all of our minds. Many of you have called into my office to remind me that it would strip coverage from at least 22 million Americans, eviscerate Medicaid for our most vulnerable neighbors, triple premiums for middle-income seniors, raise out-of-pocket-costs across the board, and bankrupt families at the precise moment of their deepest heartbreak — such as when their young child is undergoing chemotherapy. I’ve heard from so many of you about the obvious cruelty inherent in this proposal. But, I don’t know — maybe I haven’t heard from enough of you?

This week, I’m thrilled to serve as the grand marshal of the Franklin town parade; come find me aboard the Rotary Club float and plead with me to spare your family! I’ll be flipping burgers at the Madison bicentennial on Thursday — another great opportunity to implore me, perhaps even with tears in your eyes as you recount a devastating personal story, to demonstrate that I value human life. But you better save some of your appetite (and some of those stories!) for the weekend, when yours truly will serve as a judge at the annual Washington County chili cook-off. Come enjoy some of the finest chili around as you explain to a real-life U.S. senator that your aspirations would be halted, petrified, and shattered like frozen glass by the 74% average premium increase projected to take hold under this healthcare bill.

You’re real Americans with busy lives to lead; you don’t have time for silly politics, and you certainly don’t have time to drive hundred of miles across our fine state to personally beseech me to not sign your death warrant. All I’m saying is, you know, that it might not be such a bad idea if you did. And sure, I could clear all of this up by announcing that I am a firm ‘no,’ that I find this bill to be morally repugnant, and that no version of American values exists that could ever justify the barbarity of intentionally planting this bone-cold boot of a law onto the necks of our friends and neighbors. But politics is supposed to be fun! That’s why I choose to remain coy by suggesting with a wink and a furrowed brow that I “have concerns” and am “troubled by the current language” — heck, you’d probably fall asleep if you were certain which way I was going to land on this, maybe for the first time in weeks.

Look: no one in America should have to choose between getting a mammogram and feeding their children. Nobody should put off going to college or starting a small business because a family member got hit with an unexpected illness. And no senior should be denied care from their nursing home because the time-honored promise of Medicaid was pulled out from under their feet. That should be obvious to any human being who has not completely failed the most basic test of what it means to be human. And, folks, I’m almost there, too — I’m so close. And what might put me over the top, in re: freeing you from the visceral terror of having to wonder what will happen to your future if a family member has an accident, is if you bring your kids down to the road race on Sunday and throw yourself upon my mercy.

As your Senator, I always strive to do the right thing as soon as a certain number of you put your lives on hold to explain to me that I need to — and this healthcare bill is no exception. So come; come to the fire department fundraiser! Come to the bean supper! Come to the bird-call competition! Come say hello, and try to reason with me to be a person.

I’m going to kill you if you don’t beg, and even if you beg, I still might do it.

Photo credit: Sarah Rice for The New York Times