Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern

Letter-Writing Wednesday: Don’t Help Republicans Govern January 4, 2017


[For 2017, I made a New Year’s resolution to make sure my elected officials hear from me more often. To hold myself accountable to that pledge, and hopefully to inspire others to do the same, I intend to post the letters I send on Daylight Atheism. I sent a version of this letter to my senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. Feel free to reuse it or adapt it for your own purposes.]

Dear Senator:

After Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009, Mitch McConnell declared that Republicans’ top priority was to make him a one-term president. Over the following eight years, the GOP did their best to fulfill that promise by waging an unprecedented campaign of obstruction, including a constant drumbeat of phony scandals, frivolous lawsuits, concocted crises, and voting and filibustering in lockstep to block every Democratic idea, culminating in the absolute refusal to even consider President Obama’s eminently qualified Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

In short, Congressional Republicans chose to abdicate their responsibility to participate in governing the country. In spite of this, the voters rewarded them by delivering them congressional majorities, a majority of state legislatures, and now the presidency. With Donald Trump in the White House, all of President Obama’s achievements are in jeopardy. The Affordable Care Act, the Paris climate agreement, the ongoing economic recovery, and all the other gains from eight years of competent progressive governance could be erased and then some.

Republicans’ obstructionist tactics delivered them electoral success. Now Democrats have to learn that lesson. We owe our opponents across the aisle the same degree of respect and cooperation that they showed us when they were in the minority: in other words, none. Turnabout is fair play, so over the next few years, our top priority has to be to make Trump a one-term president.

In the coming Congress, I expect Democrats to stand together in principled, uncompromising resistance to every Republican initiative. It’s not enough to block GOP efforts to shred the social safety net, appoint radical right-wing judges or trash the environment. It’s essential that Democrats exert the utmost effort to block every bill and nomination by Trump and the Republican Congress. What we can’t block, we must stall, and what we can’t stall, we must attack and criticize in the media as ferociously as possible. It’s time for us to take the gloves off, as this editorial suggests:

There should be no Democratic fingerprints whatsoever on the coming catastrophe. Democrats must not give the imprimatur of legitimacy to the handsy Infowars accolyte who is about to take the oath of office. Not to get some highways built. Not to renegotiate NAFTA. Not to do anything.

At long last, Democrats must learn from their tormenters: Obstruct. Delay. Delegitimize. Harass. Destroy. Above all: Do. Not. Help. This. Man. Govern.

To be clear, if Republicans try to reach out to Democrats, Democrats should spurn those efforts in no uncertain terms. We can’t be duped into phony bipartisan initiatives that give conservatives a veneer of legitimacy. We have to send the American people a clear message about how abnormal and unprecedented the situation has become. These tactics worked for the GOP, and if we adopt them and use them consistently, they’ll work for us just the same.

As a Democratic voter and donor, I’m urging you to heed this advice. The future of progressive governance and of America itself may depend on it.

Adam Lee

Image credit: Tomas Castelazo, released under CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

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