Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Open Letter to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Dear Congresswoman Maloney:
I've been a Democratic voter all my life. I contribute money, to the best of my modest means, on the Presidential and Congressional levels, and I've been known to volunteer my time too. Back in 2000, when friends told me they would vote for Nader, I was appalled and tried to talk them out of it.
Yet here we are in 2010, and as best as I can tell I will -- for the first time -- pull the lever for the Green Party candidates this November. How did I get here?
Throughout the health care reform debate, I've been terrified that the Democratic party would throw away the cake because they couldn't agree on the icing. While I concurred with the left that the public option was a good idea, and agreed with the centrists that the excise tax would do some good, it was always clear to me that those policy preferences were of less importance than expanding coverage to the uninsured. There was simply no ill effect that could out-weigh the good of eliminating the mortality, morbidity, anxiety, and financial distress of 30 million people without health insurance.
I wish you saw things the same way. I've twice called your office trying to find out if you would be willing to vote for the Senate bill, but the evasive answer I got both times -- that you were "working on it" -- seems to indicate that you are part of the problem. (Incidentally, I've also called Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, trying to get them to cooperate with the House.) This pains me because you won re-election in 2008 by 60 points! It's hard to imagine how a Congressional delegate could have more freedom to vote their conscience.
Press reports seem to indicate that the Dems are preparing to foist a stripped down bill that would betray my only non-negotiable agenda item: the fullest expansion of coverage possible. You and the Democrats have failed so miserably I have nothing to lose in throwing my vote away: you won't pass health care reform, the Senate won't enact cap-and-trade, you won't touch immigration reform, or even mention don't ask/don't tell. Really, what is there to lose in letting Republicans get elected?
I doubt I will ever pull the lever next to Carolyn Maloney's name again, and it won't make any difference to your certain re-election. However, for the sake of justice rather than malice, I sincerely hope the broken bodies and broken dreams you've failed to prevent haunt you for the rest of your days.