To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, July 23, 2024


VIPs? Indeed


An open letter to Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin:

So, you have once again shown the world how important you are by effectively killing voting rights legislation. You must be breathing mighty heady air as you wield your power and block the will of the majority of Americans – and members of your own party.

President Biden has a pro-public agenda? Better run it by Manchin and Sinema.

House Democrats pass legislation? Better cotton to the whims of Sinema and Manchin.

Maybe the rare air of supreme importance is making you light-headed.

Sen. Sinema, you are too young to remember. Sen. Manchin, older than I am, you have no excuse to ignore the previous precedent set by balking Democratic senators in thwarting a president’s initiatives.

When Jimmy Carter was elected president, he had majorities in both houses of Congress. But Democratic Congressmen – senators in particular – protecting special interest pals, stopped every effort he made for the slightest progressive action. They were largely responsible for “failing” his presidency and creating the “malaise” that led to Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980.

Your efforts to stop major legislation have overshadowed many of the president’s successes. You are creating the impression of failure despite such economic successes as the reduction of the unemployment rate from 6.2% a year ago to 3.9% today; the ensuing drop in unemployment benefits from more than 18 million when President Biden took office to two million today and the creation of more than six million new jobs.

Great news. So, too, are five million more Americans receiving health insurance and a reduction by 32% of the number of households reporting food shortages.

And other accomplishments [provided by the State Democratic Party], “more judges confirmed to lower federal courts than any president since President Kennedy” plus the “largest investments” in power grid, climate resilience and safe and clean drinking water.

Yet, when it comes to voting rights, the headlines go to stifling senators. Build Back Better?

“Better not,” says Manchin, who manipulated news coverage for about a month with counter-proposals that you eventually rebuked yourself.

So, you two think you are pretty important?

Well, you are.

When President Carter took office, Democrats had a 55-45 majority in the Senate. Six years later, the Republicans had 53-46 edge, with one independent. And, of course, Ronald Reagan was in the White House. This turn of events was largely the result of the obstructionism of congressional Democrats.

You did notice that change in the Senate? Yes, some pretty good senators lost subsequent elections. They got themselves lumped into the same “loser” category as the president they refused to help.

But more than the presidency or a senator’s seat is at stake today.

Back in 1980, we faced a choice between a moderate Southern Democrat and a conservative Republican. After President Reagan’s victory, both parties still worked together. For the past five years, many conservative Republicans have opted out of public office in lieu of facing challenges from the fascist wing of their party encouraged by the former president.

Today’s Republicans are not small government conservatives but anti-republicans, espousing hatred, a white nationalism that can only be compared to Nazism, and autocracy, many even claiming all of this hatred makes them good Christians.

As moderates, you sit figuratively near the middle aisle separating the parties. Look across at how many of your GOPQ colleagues still spout – or support through their silence – the Big Lie about 2020 election fraud. Notice how many openly or tacitly support the attempted coup of last year.

And if you are looking for the truly crazy, pop over to the House and take a gander at some of those Quislings who aided and abetted the attempted overthrow of the government.

So, yes, you are very important people. VIP senators indeed. Only the future of our country depends upon whether you let your temporary importance overshadow the long-term importance of what is in your hands.

Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson
Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democrats. He lives in Duncan, following a sporadic career as a small-town journalist, mostly in Texas, and as an editor of educational audio-visual materials. Some days he's a philosopher/poet, others a poet/philosopher.