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 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.
The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House of Representatives
For too long you have hidden behind the cover of the lunatic fringe. In the last days of the 113th congress you stepped out of the shadows by issuing a very public challenge to the Tea Party and their corporate sponsors on the far right.
At long last the second most powerful official in America found his vocal chords. Was that the plan all along? Did you give them just enough rope to hang themselves without doing irreparable harm to the Republican brand? Or are they still alive and kicking, rested and ready to resume their March of the Lemmings over the political cliff?
The real question is: What now? Do you begin to work with the president if not for the benefit of the nation then for the appeal and reputation of the Republican Party? Passing the Dream Act, raising minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits is the least congress can do to restore viability to the legislative branch. If it costs you your leadership role so be it. Better to step away than to lead the march over that cliff.
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Former United States Senator for the State of New York
Former Secretary of State
Dear Ms. Clinton:
The question is as obligatory as the answer is obvious: You are running for president. Everything you have done since the last run in 2008 has been geared to the next in 2016. You have bolstered your foreign policy credentials by serving honorably as Secretary of State and resigned to give yourself distance from the Obama administration in the event things do not go well in the second term.
A word of advice: We need a woman president. We do not need a second coming of Bill Clinton. Yes, everyone remotely associated with Democratic Party politics loves Big Bill now; and yes, he is a remarkably talented politician. But he is also singularly responsible for eliminating the left from mainstream American politics. The Democratic Party today is the moderate branch of the Republican Party not too many years ago. It did not start out that way for President Clinton but that is his legacy.
What would you bring to the White House to distinguish yourself from your husband? One of the low points of your previous campaign was when you attempted to channel Bill in defending a gas tax holiday: “I’m not going to put in my lot with economists.” Bill could get away with that sort of tomfoolery; you cannot. Be yourself and let the chips fall. We can only hope that who you really are is what we need in a president.