An open letter to Dave Reichert:
I recently received a fundraising plea from you that began with this message:
“Now more than ever, we must work together to fight the liberal special-interest group that is spending big money targeting our district to push their radical agenda.”
I am wondering what you think makes liberals, a word that designates a political philosophy, a special interest group. That term, “special interest group,” began to be used as a catch-phrase under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, intending it to cast aspersions on the motives and practices of lobbying groups such as teachers, people of color, senior citizens and organizations who work on behalf of the poor and marginalized. Conservatives want people to hear “special interest” and think “bad guys.” Never have I heard a conservative confer the label “special interest group” on oil companies, big business, or themselves.
I am politically liberal. Here is my “radical” agenda:
• I want government to make it easier, not harder, for people to vote;
• I want elections to take place on a level playing field, not gerrymandered one way or the other;
• I want corporations to have no more influence on elections and policy than the general populace;
• I want my struggling sister to have health insurance that actually allows her to afford health care;
• I want my nephew to be able to afford his insulin;
• I want hungry children to be provided with lunch at school;
• I want teachers to have the resources necessary to teach our children;
• I want our communities to be safer, which means I want access to treatment for the mentally ill and those addicted to opioids, and I want those released from jails and prisons to have a chance at employment. These are safety issues.
• I want people of color to feel safe around police;
• I want our LBGT citizens to feel safe in schools and on public transportation;
• I want our Muslim citizens not to be demonized;
• I want scientists to have funding for research;
• I want public art;
• I want public transportation;
• I want public education;
• I want public libraries;
• I want national parks that everyone can afford to enjoy;
• I want abortions to be safe and rare;
• I want veterans to be cared for;
• I want clean air and water and a planet that can continue to sustain life.
• Most of all, I want a congressional representative who will stand up to a president who assaults every shared American value on a daily basis, splintering the nation, encouraging violence and abandoning the leadership role we have painstakingly built up over the past century.
• And it would be nice to have a congressional representative who considers it his or her duty to represent the liberals as well as the conservatives in his or her district.