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
Dear Senator Schumer,
I am alarmed that Democrats are not pushing proactively towards a progressive agenda. Flint MI still does not have clean water. Where is the Democratic Party support for Single-Payer/Medicare for All? Where is the broad Democratic Party support for taxpayer-funded public colleges? Where is the Democratic Party opposition to even more foreign war? Where is the Democratic Party action to support the previous consent decrees and federal oversight of policing abuses? Where is the Democratic Party legislation to fund community policing, instead of police militarization? Where is the Democratic Party legislation to protect the environment and transition to clean energy? Where are the Democratic votes to import cheaper medicine from Canada? In order to win in 2018 and beyond, Democrats need to do more than opposition and resistance. Voters need BOLD LEADERSHIP.
It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the votes yet. Push for the legislation that people actually want and the votes will come. Stop pandering to the corporate interests that fund your campaigns and start representing the constituents you need to vote for you.
Natalie Holme Elsberg