Jack Random is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press). See The Chronicles have been posted on the Albion Monitor, Bellaciao, Buzzle, CounterPunch, Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press and Peace-Earth-Justice. www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com
The Honorable Bernie Sanders
United States Senator for the State of Vermont
I love you, Bernie. There is little ground between your positions on the major issues of the day and my own. But I have to chuckle when I see your name mentioned as a progressive candidate for the White House on the Democratic ticket. Has everyone forgotten that you are not a Democrat?
To run for the Democratic nomination your first act would have to be a repudiation of your independence. Don’t go there, Bernie. If you want to run for the presidency do so as an independent. As a United States Senator with decades of governing experience, you are eminently qualified. Within the Democratic Party you would be branded a socialist and marginalized just as Dennis Kucinich was marginalized. As an independent candidate you would inject fear into the core of the Democratic machine.
In our heart of hearts, we both know that real systemic change, the kind of change that our national evolution demands, can never come within the confines of the two-party system. We both know that the probability of third party or independent success is remote but it is no more so than the chance of your prevailing within the Democratic Party.
Whatever path you choose, no public official has earned the loyalty and support of the progressive community more than you have.
Governor Chris Christie
State of New Jersey
My Republican friends wrote you off when you shook the hand of our president and welcomed federal aid in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I replied: He just made himself the leading contender for 2016.
They saw you as a turncoat. I saw you for what you are: A shrewd operator, an opportunist, a slick politico and a powerful enemy of the working folk you pretend to represent. You are a corporate Republican. You are radically anti-labor and your empathy for the poor and needy begins and ends with sympathetic words and well-timed hugs for the television cameras. You are a gifted politician.
At a time when your party was demanding severe budget cuts, you secured ample funding to rebuild homes, buildings, structures and lives destroyed by the hurricane but how you used that funding remains shrouded in mystery. The common folk who needed your help most are still waiting.
Maybe you’d like to know how people voted before handing out assistance. Whether the scandal regarding the partial bridge closure that served to punish a New Jersey city whose mayor refused to back you in the recent election, can be traced directly to your hands or not, we have begun to see how you operate. The more we see, the less appealing you will become.
You are far from the second coming of Teddy Roosevelt (as some would suggest). You more resemble the second coming Warren G. Harding.
The Honorable Harry Reid
United States Senator for the State of Nevada
Majority Leader of the United States Senate
At long last you took a decisive step in curtailing the power of the filibuster in the United States Senate. We are not impressed.
In ending the filibuster for presidential appointments to the bench you finally did what the party of opposition would have done in a New York minute. Had you ended the filibuster as a tool of obstruction to legislation I might be more inclined to applaud. Had you ended the filibuster during Obama’s first term, preferably in the first year, I would sing your praises to the mountaintops.
Consider what might have been accomplished: the right to organize in the workplace, a long overdue raise in minimum wage, labor and environmental protection in trade policy, a Put America to Work program rebuilding our antiquated infrastructure, a comprehensive mass transit and alternative energy program, immigration reform, the Dream Act, an expanded voting rights act, common sense gun control, on and on.
I am no fool. I know that too many Democrats and their corporate sponsors wanted the cover of Republican obstructionism as an excuse not to act. I suspect you are one of them. Just don’t expect us to applaud because you took one little step for democracy in the royal halls of the United States Senate. It is far too modest and much too late.
The only virtue of the Senate today is that states (unlike congressional districts) cannot be gerrymandered; they can only be distorted by disenfranchisement. It is past time we struck down all the antiquated, aristocratic protocols of the Senate. The British stripped away the power of the Lords ages ago.
When the Republican leaders warned that you would pay a price, you should have replied: Go ahead, make my day!
The Honorable Mitch McConnell
United States Senator for the State of Kentucky
Minority Leader of the United States Senate
They say you’re a tough guy. You’d better be. You’re behind the eight ball with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
The Tea Party is banging on your door and all your coffers of corporate sponsorship may not be enough to protect you. Yours is the most difficult challenge of tacking hard right for your party primary and pulling hard to the middle for the general election without appearing the political chameleon that you will have become.
You’ve had a long run in the halls of power. It would surely be best for your reputation and legacy to retire gracefully and yield to the next generation of leadership – even if that generation appears to have lost its grounding on the solid earth.
Sadly, when an individual has sat at the table of the elites and enjoyed the finest wines of influence, it rarely leads to common sense. Sadly, the longer you have tasted that sweet nectar, the less you are inclined to let it go.
The Honorable Elizabeth Warren
United States Senator for the State of Massachusetts
Dear Ms. Warren:
If not for the irrational and unprecedented Republican obstructionism in congress you could have been a largely unknown bureaucrat, head of the under-funded and ineffectual Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead, you have joined the ranks of the most elite body of legislators in the nation. Thank you, Republicans!
You have established yourself as an extraordinary voice for the needs of working people and against the unbridled avarice of Wall Street. You have addressed the ever widening disparity between the rich and poor as clearly and eloquently as any politician in recent memory.
While the case of Barrack Obama proclaims it possible for a first term senator to reach the White House, he had something you decidedly do not: support of Wall Street financiers. For now, you would do well to follow in the footsteps of Al Franken and Sherrod Brown as the leaders of the Democratic branch of the Democratic Party in the United States Senate.
Live long and prosper. Few could have imagined you a Senator four years ago. Four years from now, who knows?
The Honorable Rand Paul
United States Senator for the State of Kentucky
I am not a libertarian but I admire the libertarian philosophy for its strict adherence to the principle that the role of government should be confined to protecting the rights and liberties of individuals. If you are going to claim the banner of libertarianism, you must be true to the libertarian ideal that government should not impose its subjective morality on any individual citizen.
Your position on reducing sentences for nonviolent drug offenders is progressive but it is not libertarian. Your refusal to come out for legalization of illicit drugs or even to state that nonviolent drug offenders should not be imprisoned removes you from the libertarian party. Moreover, your radical non-libertarian opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest makes us wonder how you could ever be confused with a libertarian.
Maybe I have misstated the libertarian ideal. If so please enlighten me. Or maybe your philosophy borrows more from the rigid individualism and pure capitalism of your namesake Ayn Rand than it does from the libertarianism she derided as a vehicle for anarchy.
So what is it, Senator? Are you an Objectivist in the Ayn Rand tradition, are you a libertarian or are you something else entirely? Before you become a candidate for the presidency, we’d really like to know.