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).
Find the previous letter here.
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
WHEN WILL THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY COMMIT TO OPENNESS, TRANSPARENCY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND PROGRESSIVE VALUES?
Dear Senator Schumer,
The representations of DNC counsel in the class action lawsuit against the DNC are frankly a disgrace. Mr. Spiva, representing the DNC, argued that there is no enforceable obligation for the DNC to run impartial and fair primary elections, and that Sanders supporters should have assumed as much. The full transcript is here: http://jampac.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/042517cw2.pdf (see e.g. 8, 24 – 9, 4).
Let me be clear: I was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the Democratic Primary, even changing my political registration from Independent to Democrat so that I could vote in the closed primary in New York. Until the publication of the DNC and Podesta emails, I had no idea that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton. I would never have donated any money, had I known that the primary contest was rigged, and that the DNC was set on choosing its presidential candidate regardless of the wishes of primary voters. Both my spouse and I donated to promote Bernie’s platform of single-payer healthcare for all, clean energy, and publicly funded K-College education. We were absolutely duped and misled by the DNC, which pretended neutrality and fairness between the primary candidates.
Article V Section 4 of the DNC Charter explicitly promises “impartiality and evenhandedness as between the Presidential candidates and campaigns.” I paid money in reliance on the understanding that the primary elections for the Democratic nominee in 2016 were fair and impartial, which is a reasonable, indeed, bedrock assumption of our democracy. It was a rude and unwelcome surprise for the DNC Leaks to show DNC officials creating and disseminating media narratives to undermine Bernie Sanders and advance Clinton, including changing its donor policies specifically to favor Hillary Clinton, scheduling of debates to favor Clinton and pouring its considerable resources and relationships into propelling Clinton to the nomination, as well as coordinating and taking direction from Clinton’s campaign operatives. It is PLAIN AS DAY to me that the DNC was not acting in accordance with its own charter and, instead, fraudulently misled voters and donors, to our detriment.
It would be shocking if the lawsuit does not survive the motion to dismiss.
Meanwhile, counsel representing the DNC is taking ethically indefensible positions on the DNC’s behalf in open court, and furthermore – seemed wholly unable to explain how or whether the DNC supported state contests. The Democratic Party should admit fault, offer restitution to donors and voters who were injured, and pledge to follow a democratic, transparent, and fair process in primary contests going forward. To that end, the Democratic Party should support open primaries in every state, same-day registration, a federal holiday for Election Day, and compulsory voting.
It’s not rocket science. Voters like me watched the Democratic Party cheat through the primary contest to anoint an insider for whom voters (least of all the vaunted Obama coalition), would not and did not rally. As a result, we are stuck with this craven, cruel and apparently corrupt Trump administration. It is unsurprising that, having lost faith in the process, registered Democrats have also lost faith in the Party; registration is well below 30% and the most popular politician in the nation is a 74-year-old democratic socialist from Vermont.
Stop the Democratic Party’s short-sighted and expedient insanity of only looking to exploit GOP mistakes (and being gleefully smug about last week’s healthcare votes implications with respect to 2018 elections). Your job is to LEAD AND REPRESENT with integrity and vision. Try doing that in relation to our democratic process. If you were to stop brazenly defending your smug insiders’ club and embrace truly progressive values of accountability and transparency, you would find that people will vote for Hope and Change – and Democrats can win elections – just like they did in 2008.
Natalie Holme Elsberg