Before the last election, I canvassed in a fairly rural area of my state. The people I talked to were, in the main, working folks with families. They owned modest homes, drove modest cars, held modest paying jobs. What, by their votes, they asked of their government was equally modest. They didn’t want handouts. They wanted opportunities. They wanted the opportunity to provide health care to their families at a price they could afford. They wanted an opportunity to have sufficient net income to support the needs of their families. They wanted a government that would be careful with their money in improving the country for them and, most of all, for the children they were working so hard to raise.
The Democrats, by and large, did not offer this. Stop and think, for example, if you can name one policy Hillary Clinton announced that would do any of these things. On the other hand, think of the many promises that Donald Trump made, promises backed up by the legislators running for office: health care for all at a reasonable price, a significant tax cut for the middle class, a significant increase in well-paying jobs, and many more.
So, shocked as the press was at the outcome, it now, in hindsight, is all to clear why folks who had in the past routinely voted Democrat should deliver the executive and legislative branches of our government over to the Republicans.
Now, however, is the time of reckoning. Whatever may have been their promises, what has the present legislative and executive branch delivered? Three things stand out. First, the majority in the legislature offered a health plan that would reduce the number of Americans with health insurance, a plan that would, for those who were able to get insurance, have raised the cost of that insurance. That result was averted by a razor-thin margin.
Second, the majority offered, and are now considering, a tax plan that would raise taxes on a significant portion of the middle class, give an enormous tax break to the wealthiest among us, and, to pay for the resultant loss of federal income, would both raise the national debt and slash benefits for Medicare and Social Security.
Third, the present administration withdrew from the Paris Accord on climate (thus making the United States the only country in the world not participating in this effort), slashed safety regulations for the workplace, reduced or eliminated banking and investment regulations and significantly reduced the nation’s commitments to public education.
I make a simple point here. We voted for the present legislature and executive administration. This is our government. Whether we are Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Socialist, it is we who accept and live with the results of our elections. What should be most profoundly disturbing for all of us is that what the present legislature and the present executive branch is doing is precisely the opposite of what they promised to do. Those folks I talked to, who wanted so little, and who were promised all they wanted and more, are being cynically betrayed, and there are remarkably few people in the legislature, and none at all in the executive branch, who have the courage to admit it. Just imagine if those who won office a year ago had presented the health plan and the tax plan they now support to the voters before the election.
This is all no longer a matter of Democrat or Republican. This is about the American commitment to fundamental fairness. What we need, what we demand, is an honest commitment from those who run for office to provide what they promise. Those honest, hard-working people I canvassed were absolutely right about what they were asking for. It is time to find people who will do what they promise.