Open Letter To Paul Ryan
Dear Speaker Ryan:
I write you not as an activist with the democratic party and progressive causes, but as a student of the constitution and history. First, congratulations on the 2016 election. Much to the dismay of millions of Americans and I, we have elected Donald Trump as President. This marks the capstone of a unified Republican government at all levels and branches throughout the vast majority of the country to levels not seen since the 1920s. The ability to shape the country moving forward rests in your hands and there is much to be done. The reason we are in this situation is the people have spoken. People are angry. People want actions. However, I would like point out caution. While the Republicans have the majority of the House, Senate, and the President. They are by no means the majority in this country. They just have all the power. The reality is most people in this country hate and distrust the government because they think it does not represent them, they see it as too partisan, too non functional and too corrupt, what I ask is that you be the person to change that.
It may seem like the best decision to ram through everything on your agenda that you can, but I would caution against this approach. Yes, you can, knowing that no veto awaits you, accomplish all of your life’s work with some parliamentary wrangling to getting rid of that pesky filibuster in the Senate. No more Obama-care, medicare as a voucher program and a privatized social security, massive cuts to all of the federal government including food stamps, Pell grants and all of the government waste and innovation stifling regulations that takes away from America becoming great. You can do this. However, such a rapid change in national policy and deliberate partisanship to ram through GOP only laws is not going to appease the angry masses that put you in office, in the next 2 or 4 years.
Additionally, you must also think about who the President is. The President is a man who will undoubtedly be mirrored in near constant scandal from his personal business interests, his bombastic billionaire, playboy, reality TV star, real estate mogul, bully persona, not to mention his twitter, the drip drip stories of Russian connections, conflicts of interest. The man is going into office as the least popular start to a presidency in history I don’t see that changing anytime soon. He will not stop tweeting bizarre things, his executive orders have angered a lot of people, if the call to Australia, letters of descent from state department employees and botched raid in Yemen are any indications, foreign policy will be an increasing problem for him. Trump is simply too divisive and even you know much of what he suggests is not good for the country. Lastly, the gag orders and rejection of public comment makes people trust the government less, not more. Simply allowing Trump to go unchecked constitutionally is not going to restore peoples faith in government and it is not going to make people like your ideas more. It will have the opposite effect.
You know this. As much as you personally want to repeal Obama-care, as politically popular the idea of getting rid of it is with your caucus, and yes, as unpopular Obamacare is with much of the American public the reality is having 30 million people suddenly lose their health insurance with no real assurances that prices will go down for anyone else, will not exactly be a popular idea. While demographics were not a detriment to your party in this election, actually following through with some of the mass deportation, immigrant ban and registry, torture and nation wide stop and frisk might backfire and further alienate many Americans from your party more permanently. Not to mention your plans for medicare and social security being used to scare the AARP and older folks. Especially when the leader of your party has so many other glaring flaws. No, simply ramming through these plans is not a politically viable idea. Especially if you ram them through along partisan lines in the dead of night like you have been. This only adds to people’s distrust of government. But people are angry, they want actions, what are you do do?
My advice, be the Speaker of the People’s House, the first branch of government, don’t simply pass partisan legislation without the other side, that’s what the Democrats did in 2009–2010 and they have not recovered from it. No, what you need to do is bring back the Congress as the beacon of the American Democratic Republic that it is. In the words of Ben Franklin you are in charge of the body that are the “Servants of the People sent together to do the People’s Business.” That is what you must do.
Pass laws with ⅔ of the house to actually help people and restore people’s trust in the American political system. It will be hard, you will need democratic support, which means that you will lose some republicans, but I promise this is what the American people actually want, they don’t want Trump to run everything that should be clear by the Women’s marches, they wont our elected congress to get things done. Here are a few areas I truly believe that you can make substantial progress for the good of America.
Health Care: Obama-care sucks for too many people, but as I pointed out getting rid of the whole thing is not really viable. So change it, Make it Ryan-care, or Trump-care, whatever, make healthcare better for everyone. The exchanges, subsidies, pre-existing conditions parts of Obama-care are already in your plan, so build on them to actually reduce the cost of health care and yes, that includes medicare. The United States spends more than the rest of the world on health care with results that are below much of the rest of the world, it needs to be fixed Obama-care did not totally fix it, and simply getting rid of Obama-care will clearly not fix it. Democrats might go along with some of these changes if it includes assurances that people would not see a reduction in care quality or an increase in people’s costs, but you have to bring them in and start the dialogue. Get to work making healthcare more affordable and more accessible for more Americans. First step: admit you are not repealing obamacare, you are fixing the problems with obamacare, next, tread softly on planned parenthood, contraception and abortion, did you see the women’s marches?
Immigration: The President was elected on a promise to ‘build a wall’ and mass deportations, but such plans by themselves are not likely to help anyone including the GOP in the coming years. Maybe, you don’t have a “path to citizenship” in a bill that you pass in the next couple years, but at least give people who are attempting to assimilate and have not committed any crimes the chance to stay here legally with a work visa provided they pay a fine because after all they did break the law so it’s not amnesty and maybe leave the door open for them to become citizens latter under a different bill when the political pressure dies down. Then reform our broken immigration system that encourages people to risk dying of dehydration to come and work in slave like conditions illegally and yes secure the border. A giant, great wall might be unrealistic, but yes it should be more secure. Politically this would be a brilliant move for the GOP to pass comprehensive immigration reform under a Republican President.
Infrastructure: Our infrastructure is badly behind where it needs to be. This is something that you can work with democrats, and the Trump administration on. Every member of congress wants to have infrastructure programs in their districts. This is something that will create jobs and make the country a better place for everyone. My personal pitch: think big, Nationwide High Speed Rail System.
Taxes: You want to lower taxes, and let’s be real no one likes taxes, but we should also balance our budgets. It is absurd that people like the President pay no taxes. The United States has the highest corporate tax rate and one of the highest top tax rates in the world but a loophole and deduction for almost everything to the point where people pay a lot of money and take a long time every year to make sense of the tax code and most often get money back in one of the least efficient ways of collecting money of any government. Wall-street, hedge fund managers, billionaires and yes the rich should pay a little bigger slice of their income than working and middle class folks but it should be simpler. A new tax code that lowers rates and gets rid of the clutter can clearly happen to the benefit of all Americans, open the conversation with Democrats, if you adjust your rates a little you can bring some of them on board.
Other things you should consider tackling during this congress:
Veterans and the Military: The VA is not working for many vets and the nature of warfare and the world is changing- the military should change with it. Additionally, maybe it is time to revisit and update the blanket authority given to the President to use the military whenever and wherever to combat whatever the president calls terror that congress gave the President in 2001.
NSA/Surveillance: While we do need to find and disrupt terrorist plots such broad sweeping power in the hands of a few is dangerous, it really is.
Climate Change/Energy: I know that this is not something that you want to hear, but the future of energy is not coal or oil, its just not, America should be prepared.
While I realize that this letter may be ‘pearls before swine’ it is how I feel, not as a democrat, but as an American who wants this country to live up to the ideals of its constitutional democratic republic founding. People hate and distrust the government because they think it does not represent them, they see it as too partisan, too non functional and too corrupt, so be the person to change that. The people don’t want Trump, he’s unpopular. Bring back trust in government that represents and works for we the people. Reject the hyper-partisan trap that our politics seems to be stuck in and govern together. I hope you will take my advice and heed my warning that partisan overreach will usher in your own demise at the hands of the angry masses that put you in power in the first place. If not, I and the increasingly mobilized and angry left will remove you from power.