MERRY CHRISTMAS, 2016
A few miscellaneous political left-overs from one of the worst years on record.
First: the Women’s March on Washington. This comes from Cokie Roberts, an eminently valuable commentator on television and radio for the past thirty or more years.
Her advice – with which we agree whole-heartedly – is straight forward and to the point: it’s not enough to march because the wrong candidate won the recent election, no matter how incapable or dangerous he is. And since the march itself has now been split into several marches – in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, et al – chances are its impact will be magnified many times over.
BUT, and here’s where Ms. Roberts hits the proverbial nail – the point of the march must be POSITIVE. There must be something that energizes the millions of marchers that can be seen and heard as something valuable, worthwhile, and optimistic. Ms. Roberts made no suggestions, but we will: march for better education and more money for public schools; march for solutions to climate change and for the engagement of the US in the Treaty at Paris; march for an increase in the minimum wage. You get the idea.
The organizers of this wonderful action should decide IN ADVANCE what their goal is and work towards it, not only on January 21st, but on every day afterwards.
In order to persuade the millions of men and women who voted for Mr. Trump to pay attention to our aims and ideas we have to be cheerful, determined, savvy, politic, and reasonable. We cannot simply hike down an avenue decrying the state of the Union. Clearly a presentation of that sort only underlines the divisions within the country and what we want to do is unite the country behind sensible, grown-up, sophisticated and far-sighted goals that will fit us all.
Second, Congress. It’s time to re-educate members of the House and the Senate to real life. To do this we may need to scare them to death, threaten never to vote for them again, support every challenger who has progressive and economical solutions to America’s problems. This means pointing out to our theoretical representatives in Washington that that is exactly their job, to represent us all, not just fifty per cent.
How can we do this? By pointing out what daily reality in America really is. That unlike the members of Congress themselves, the population can in fact become ill, poor, needy, dispirited. That it is already disillusioned is a given. In the past few weeks we’ve come to understand just how corrupt our nation can be, how it really isn’t cleaner and more gentlemanly than Syria or Chad or Singapore.
The most pressing example of this is Congress’s cruel and illogical solution to fixing the Affordable Care Act. The government has offered, under Mr. Obama, healthcare for millions who have never had it. The act is not perfect, and it has complications that no one in his right mind could envision in advance. But it is not beyond repair. To snatch good health – or at least better health – from those just getting used to the idea that it is something towards which they too can work is reprehensible, frightening, biased, and wrong.
In much the same way we must get Congress to address Medicare. Congress itself now benefits from a single payer government-run plan. So should we all. They can enroll at 62 years of age, and get a pension annually when they retire equal to their Congressional salaries. Per annum. They don’t HAVE to think of need and income, of huge hospital bills for treatment that can’t be paid by the normal citizen.
One political alternative to the privatization of Medicare, as envisioned by Paul Ryan, would be simple: just kill everyone over sixty-five who isn’t in the top one percent of average earners. Because in effect vouchers and medical savings accounts cannot, and will not, meet the needs of the nation. And without government vision and understanding, millions of us will be blind-sided sooner rather than later, and eventually die off if we’re silently too proud to sign up for what remains of government aid, or too poor to qualify even for mandated insurance contributions. Certainly the number of retirees (including, we presume, members’ parents themselves) will shrink to almost none because few will be able to afford not to work.
There are more ideas left over, and we’ll deal with them soon. But right now it’s important to remember that Mr. Trump is not yet president. That no matter how off the wall some of his ideas (‘tweets’) may be, nothing has actually happened yet. Just as his selection of cabinet members does not mean the death of democracy. Sooooo – we’re holding, waiting, circling until such time as (a) the oath is taken and (b) something actually begins to happen. Meanwhile, we prepare but we don’t criticize publicly. Chances are we’ll have plenty of time to do that.
Be of good cheer. Keep your fingers crossed. Hope for the best, not the worst. And pray that one uneducated man (however “smart” he is) cannot bring a nation down that has been supremely successful for more than two hundred years. We’ve worked hard to stay lucky. Let’s keep at it.