Letters to Schumer is a series in which we’re publishing a collection of Natalie Holme Elsberg’s letters sent to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
I started writing letters to Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader, (and arguably most senior Democrat), shortly after I discovered Resistbot. I sit in a darkened room with my little ones as they fall asleep after story time. As I scroll through the news of the day, every story brings a new outrage. Schumer voted to confirm Trump appointments? Sean Spicer said what? Trump did what? A Muslim Ban – are you kidding me? Alternative facts? #ShePersisted!? The State Department is advertising Trump’s properties? Open Kleptocracy?! We need to break up airline monopolies! Another person was shot for being black while driving!? How do we have money for a huge bomb to drop on Syria and none for healthcare and education?! The DNC lawyer said THAT?! And so on…
Still stung by the DNC’s conduct during the primary election and angry with the Clinton campaign for its hubris and mismanagement for losing against an even worse candidate than Clinton, I fired off a couple of text paragraphs. Resistbot turned it into a letter and faxed it off to Washington D.C. Much more cathartic than haranguing my neighbors, children, family, dinner companions, and fellow dog-walkers and strangers with my daily outrage! And *maybe* more effective. I mean, I had plenty of reasons to be mad at former President Obama — including the Wall Street Bailout, Standing Rock, the expanded NSA powers, deportations and bombing seven (!) Muslim-majority countries as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, but overall I believed in his integrity and that somehow he was trying his best to do his best, even when I disagreed with him, but I wasn’t tempted to yell at him every darn day. Sometimes I can’t resist SHOUTING at Senator Schumer IN ALL CAPS, because …. WTF CHUCK?! I think of it as putting Senator Chuckie on notice. Hey, at least he won’t be able to say: “Nobody told me!”
On the theory (and considerable evidence from this last slow-motion-train-wreck of an election cycle) that our elected Democratic Party representatives may not actually have a clue, I have been employing my texting thumbs to complain, cajole, and educate them on their mistakes and also on what progressive policy looks like. (Resistbot will send your letter to all your Senators and Congresspeople if you ask it to.) On their federal responsibilities, and their duty to coordinate and empower state and local government. The right wing and Tea Party activists together with ALEC successfully took over legislation and policy at the state and local level while the Democratic Party was asleep at the wheel. A group of us got together and formed LEAP, which is putting together progressive model legislation for the state and local level — watch this space.
So consider these templates and examples — you can do it too. Feel free to copy, paste, send, call, fax or scribble a postcard. Holding our reps accountable is an important part of the renaissance in democratic engagement we see going on in town halls and protests across the nation. Let’s push them in a progressive direction and promote the progressive narrative. It takes 5-10 minutes a day… and it’s better therapy than yelling at the Rachel Maddow Show.
Senator Charles E. Schumer
322 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Schumer,
Support Universal HealthCare/Medicare For All
Today Five Thirty-Eight published a study that states “The wealthiest country on earth, which also spends the most money on care for the sick, has far from the best health outcomes.”
On the heels of the cruel and misguided House vote to repeal Obamacare last week and statements from some Senators saying they will start “from scratch” I am writing to urge you to support and advocate for universal single-payer health care, or Medicare for all. Universal Health Coverage is NOT a radical idea.
The U.S. would do well to follow Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. in providing universal Health Coverage to all within its borders. Why does the U.S., the wealthiest country in the world, lag so far behind on this important public good?
AND WHY IS THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY SHOWING SUCH ABJECT LACK OF LEADERSHIP ON THIS PUBLIC GOOD? How can the Democratic Party not be looking to change direction after the most embarrassing loss ever, at the national level, and 8 years of eroding support at the state and local level? It is way past time for Democrats to act like an ACTUAL opposition party: instead of just treating the horrific House vote as a topic for fundraising and campaigning, Democrats need to DO SOMETHING to improve the lives of their constituents.
There is already a Medicare For All Act introduced by Representative John Conyers, which can be found here. I urge you to take up this bill in the Senate and to urge Nancy Pelosi and others to support it, in service of the American people. MOST AMERICANS SUPPORT SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE:
So, what are you waiting for? Follow Rep. Jerrold Nadler’s example (he is one of the 108 cosponsors of the bill) and do something good that shows leadership for a change!
If the Democratic Party as a whole does not take up Medicare for All, and continues to profit from the deep pockets of the health insurance and “big pharma” lobbyists and donors, it will be very clear to voters in 2018 that you are not actually on our side. When historians look back on your tenure and legacy, whose side will you have been on? People? Or Profit? It’s up to you.
Natalie Holme Elsberg